Research Projects: Andrew Smith studies undersea gas vents, large volcano-like features on the seafloor that spew plumes of oil and gas into the ocean. Scientists have long been interested in them because many contain large amounts of gas hydrate, an icy substance made of natural gas and water. Gas hydrates might be mined someday as an alternative energy source, though some experts warn of their potential to cause submarine landslides and maybe even accelerate global warming. Smith built a model to estimate the amount of oil and gas that seeps into the Gulf of Mexico from vents each year, relative to the amount leaked from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Why Did you Choose the Jackson School?: Smith said one of his top two reasons for choosing the Jackson School was the Jackson Fellowship, which gave him full funding for his master’s, without the need to work as a teaching assistant or research assistant. The other was the wide range of advisors and research areas he could choose from. “Because it’s the largest geoscience program in the country, I could come and choose from hundreds of different advisors,” says Smith. “And because of the depth and breadth of the program, I could study literally anything I wanted in the geosciences.”
How did you choose your research focus and advisor? Smith hardly knew what undersea gas vents were before he came to the Jackson School. He hadn’t even taken a marine science class. But then he encountered Flemings’ infectious enthusiasm. “And I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do,” he says. “Not just work on that specific project and try to solve that particular problem, but I knew I wanted to work with Peter and we’d work well together and he was going to put me on a good project and give me all the support I needed.”