PhD — satellite image of U.S. at night showing illuminated cities

Doctoral Admissions

Our doctoral program offers scholars from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a highly individualized area of inquiry under the mentorship of a YSE faculty member. The research conducted by YSE PhD candidates spans global and disciplinary boundaries — and what’s more, it is fully funded. Learn more about how to join this vibrant and dynamic intellectual community.

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    Student and Alumni Spotlights

    Siria Gamez in a climbing harness placing a camera in the tree tops

    Tracking Big Cats in the Sierra Madres Mountains

    Siria Gámez tracks big cats — all the way up 80-foot trees.  A doctoral student in YSE's Applied Wildlife Ecology lab, Gámez had special training to set up camera traps in the tree canopy of the El Triunfo Biosphere to examine how jaguars, pumas, and other carnivores use vertical spaces in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains in Mexico.

    “This particular region of Mexico is quite understudied,” says Gámez. “We’re exploring how these animals survive in this three-dimensional forest structure.”

    Danica Doroski

    Investing in Urban Forests

    As the state of Connecticut’s urban forester, Danica Doroski ’21 PhD is working with municipalities, nonprofits, and residents to grow and maintain urban forests. 

    “Investments in urban tree cover is a vital environmental justice issue,” Doroski says. “Urban areas with fewer trees can be as much as 20 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas. By increasing tree cover, we can keep our cities cooler, which translates to both health and energy benefits.”

    Yufang Gao in the mountains

    Redefining Human-Wildlife Conflict

    In the Tibetan Plateau, PhD candidate Yufang Gao ’14 MESc interviews, observes, and travels with Tibetan herders and Buddhist monks. He sets up camera traps and collects scat to analyze the diet of snow leopards. And he has hiked a mountainside 15,000 feet above sea level — all in pursuit of data for his dissertation that focuses on the quest for harmonious coexistence between people and large carnivores. What is needed for human-wildlife coexistence is a different perspective about conflict, Gao says. 

    “Conflict,” he has found, “is part of coexistence.”

    Eleanor Stokes speaking on a NASA stage

    Insights from the Night Sky

    Using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite spacecraft, Eleanor Stokes ’18 PhD is mapping disaster impacts in vulnerable communities. As co-leader of Black Marble, NASA’s first nighttime light dataset, Stokes has helped FEMA and other relief organizations direct their boots-on-the ground operations after natural disasters. “Humanity is facing major global risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels,” she says. “It’s very important to have a satellite record that can speak to the human piece of the puzzle.”

    Rich Guldin leaning against a tree in the forest

    Tracking Forest Inventory

    Richard Guldin ’76 MFS, ’79 PhD has helped reinvent the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program by integrating new sampling designs, field procedures, and innovative software to create an annual inventory that has become a global model. His work earned him the Society of American Foresters’ Sir William Schlich Award.

    Why YSE Doctoral Programs?

    A PhD researcher in the field

    Research Independence and Funding

    Doctoral students at YSE receive five years of guaranteed funding, independent of any faculty research grants, allowing doctoral students the intellectual freedom to explore the environmental issues that most inspire them.

    A cohort of 9 PhD graduates celebrating commencement

    Acclaimed Faculty

    Working closely with some of the top experts in their fields is one of the advantages of a YSE doctoral degree. Our faculty are committed to mentoring the next generation of environmental leaders to tackle the world’s most urgent problems.

    Professor Mark Bradford teaching at Yale-Myers Forest

    Faculty Who May Take on Doctoral Students

    All applicants must identify and contact one or two faculty members who they think could serve as their major advisor.

    Faculty Profiles
    Student sitting outside of Kroon Hall

    How to Apply

    The application deadline for admission to the fall class in a given year is typically the preceding January 2 of that year. Applications are submitted through the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) website.

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    In the News

    Gabriel Gadsden

    Does ‘Fear’ Drive Bias in Environmental Scholarship?

    Scientists understand that fear of predation affects animal behavior within landscapes. Now, YSE researchers are using a similar hypothesis — which they are calling “social-ecological landscapes of fear” — to explore the need for conservationists to address negative human histories in their research.

    Tree-cover dominating the New Haven cityscape

    YSE-led Study Examines the Increasing Importance of Mid-Size Urban Forests

    A new study, co-authored by researchers from The Forest School at YSE, examines how New Haven’s urban forest patches change over time and management strategies for mid-size urban forests.

    Andis Arietta taking notes in the field

    Research on Rapid, Fine-Scale Evolution in Wood Frogs Wins 2022 Bormann Prize

    Andis Arietta’s doctoral research found that frogs have evolved in response to climate change in recent years, but that continued warming would likely outpace the species’s ability to adapt to extreme environmental change.

    Contact the Doctoral Program

    Elisabeth Barsa is the contact for students interested in the YSE doctoral program.