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Department of Geology and Geophysics

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: 307-766-3386

Fax: 307-766-6679

Email: geol-geophys@uwyo.edu

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Graduate Student Research Opportunities

Modern earth science is quantitative, process-oriented, and multi-faceted in ways that demand a global, interdisciplinary approach. As a graduate student at UW, you'll work closely with faculty who are tackling some of the most important problems in earth science today, from quantifying the strength of plate boundaries to developing strategies for sequestration of carbon from Earth's atmosphere. Some of these problems are best addressed in our backyard—the fabulous natural laboratory of the Rocky Mountains—but many require research in more distant locales. At UW, you get the best of both worlds.

If you're looking for graduate school opportunities, we invite you to contact the faculty member(s) working in your field of interest.


  1. Ore Deposit Formation and Mineral Resources. Assistant Professor Simone Runyon seeks graduate students for research in fundamental aspects of ore deposit formation, including fluid-rock interaction, trace element distribution in hydrothermal systems, and deep manifestations of hydrothermal alteration. Students with a background and aptitude for fieldwork and geochemistry are encouraged to apply.

  2. Stratigraphic filter in still water basins.  Associate Professor Brandon McElroy is seeking students interested in exploring hypotheses about the relations between the modern stratigraphic record and recent climatic record. This primarily involves comparing sediments that have accumulated over the last century with environmental and hydrologic inputs into impounded surface water reservoirs. The end goal is to quantify the stratigraphic filter for sedimentary accumulations in still water basins associated with the growth of deltas and with gravity flows.

  3. Subsurface characterization and modeling. Professor Ye Zhang's main interests include aquifer/reservoir modeling, geostatistics, upscaling, inversion, and uncertainty analysis for hydrology and energy applications. Recent research ranges from CO2-EOR modeling, aquifer characterization and contaminant source identification, to geophysical inverse problems. At the blair wallis fractured rock research well field, Zhang is interested in the joint analysis of well hydraulic data and geophysical measurements to develop petrophysical relations for fractured aquifers. Students with strong background in quantitative analysis and computer programming are encouraged to apply.

  4. Structural architecture of the megathrust earthquake source region.  Professor Barbara John Despite significant societal implications, the physical mechanisms and dynamics of large slip earthquakes at subduction zones remain poorly understood. Specifically, the structural character of the megathrust earthquake source region (physical conditions and rock properties of the fault zone at depth), are virtually unknown from active systems. Successful coring and logging through the target depth of IODP Site C0002- October 2018-March 2019 (offshore Japan), are expected to delineate structural characteristics of the megathrust deformation zone, including differences in composition and physical properties of the hanging wall, footwall, and damage zone, and fluid geochemistry. Post-cruise research will depend on core recovery from the active zone of decollement at the plate boundary, as well as adjacent hanging wall and footwall samples. Microstructural analysis of recovered samples will provide key information about fault zone thickness, architecture, and strain localization, from a macro- to microscopic scale.

  5. The origins of unusually corrosive oxidizing power on both Earth and Mars!. Professor Carrick Eggleston is seeking to understand an under-appreciated process - relevant to understanding both Earth and Mars - the interaction of sunlight with semiconducting minerals (like iron and manganese oxides) to drive many chemical reactions that directly affect our environment - and that of Mars. Along the way, become an expert in instruments that let you see atomic-scale structures and processes at mineral surfaces .

  6. Hydrogeophysics: Assistant Professor Andy Parsekian seeks PhD-level Geophysics students for research projects related to permafrost processes and/or mountain hydrology. Interested applicants who have strong quantitative/coding skills, physics background, and past research experience in geophysics, environmental science, hydrology or related fields should contact Dr. Parsekian to discuss possible project opportunities.

  7. Machine Learning for Seismic Reservoir Characterisation. Associate Professor Dario Grana is seeking students, with a strong mathematical and statistical background, interested in research opportunities in the field of seismic reservoir characterization. The goal of these research projects is to improve the reservoir description by applying machine learning method to large datasets.

  8. Understanding the growth of oceanic crust. Associate Professor Mike Cheadle and Professor Barbara John are looking for highly motivated students to join their current group of graduate students researching processes at mid-ocean ridges. Mike has recently been working with the International Oman Drilling Project and is looking for a student to work on samples collected during that project. These are absolutely unique samples and together with upper crustal samples collected from Pito Deep in the Pacific Ocean provide spaced samples that cover the entire thickness of fast spread crust. The aim of this project is to answer the question "How is ocean crust created?"  Mike and Bobbie are also interested in understanding faulting and deformation at slow spreading ridges and in deciphering the interaction of magmatic and deformation processes.

  9. Reconstructing ancient river systems.  Associate Professor Brandon McElroy is seeking student(s) to develop and apply models for fluvial-deltaic depositional systems in order to constrain and extract past Earth surface conditions from fluvial strata. Available projects include flume work, modern river system characterization, and paleohydraulic exploration of river and delta sediments in Wyoming and global basins.

  10. Paleoecology: Associate Professor Ellen Currano seeks applicants for a PhD position to work on modern and fossil plant-insect interactions. Extensive fieldwork will be conducted at two tropical and two temperate forests using both ecological and paleoecological methods in order to better calibrate the fossil record of plants, insects, and plant-insect interactions. Depending on the interests of the student, the final phase of research will be to reinterpret fossil data from intervals of high temperature and CO2 in light of their findings, to investigate the use of plant-insect interactions as a tool for conservation biology, or other ideas proposed by the student.

  11. Earth's Critical Zone: Associate Professor Cliff Riebe seeks applicants for PhD positions in understanding linkages between geology, Earth surface processes and vegetation at the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory and beyond. This project couples geochemical and geophysical tools to quantify the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down controls on the distribution of life in mountain ranges around the world. Interested prospective students should read recent papers from Cliff’s group and contact him directly Dr. Riebe) or phone (+1 307-223-2321) for more information.

  12. Greenland ice dynamics. Professor Neil Humphrey has a major NSF funded project in Greenland that will be installing instrumentation to study the internal deformation of the ice in the transitional region of flow where fast basal sliding starts to occur. Graduate student funding is available, and students are needed, for a range of projects related to the overall project. In particular, students with an interest in ice dynamics, flow modeling, basal processes and glacial hydrology will be able to combine extensive field work and observations in Greenland, with analysis of previously unavailable data. The project will run from 2013 to 2017. It is anticipated that at least two PhD and several MS students will work on this project.

  13. Graduate student research in geochemistry of fluid-rock interactions. Associate Professor John Kaszuba seeks graduate students for research in fundamental aspects of multiphase fluid (H2O + CO2)-rock interactions with applications to geologic carbon sequestration and geothermal systems. Students with a background or interest and aptitude for geochemistry are encouraged to apply.

  14. Computational seismology group.  Assistant Professor Po Chen is inviting applications for Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in the computational seismology group. We are developing next-generation seismic wave propagation modeling and full-physics data assimilation software for the emerging homogeneous/heterogeneous multi-core petascale computing infrastructures. Students with strong background in mathematics, physics or computer science are encouraged to apply.


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Department of Geology and Geophysics

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: 307-766-3386

Fax: 307-766-6679

Email: geol-geophys@uwyo.edu

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1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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