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Scientist Profiles


Richard Ketcham had a knack for computer programming, but didn’t want a career that would keep him stuck inside. Computers didn’t seem terribly fulfilling, especially since his main experience with them had been writing programs for things like balancing a company’s books. During his senior year at Williams College, a professor asked him to stay…

At the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, a few miles from the main University of Texas campus, Wonsuck Kim is ready to set up a grand, new scientific toy. The Jackson School of Geosciences is funding the construction of a flume tank, a large experimental fluid container that will be roughly the size of half of…

As a boy, Luc Lavier grew up in the Burgundy region of France, spending days searching for ammonites among the rocks of ancient oceans and beaches. His explorations sometimes unearthed meter-wide specimens of the fossilized marine shells, so local farmers had to help him remove them. Lavier has honed his youthful curiosities into an academic…

Tim Shanahan is a paleoclimate detective. He collects sediment samples from lakes and seas to reconstruct what ancient environments and climates were like. The techniques he uses, collectively known as organic geochemistry, trace back to the oil industry where they were used to characterize different types of oils and to better understand the environments in…

Studying material properties under the extreme pressures and temperatures that exist in planetary interiors, including Earth’s interior, presents extraordinary experimental challenges. By pushing diamond anvil cell techniques literally to the breaking point, Jung-Fu “Afu” Lin, a mineral physicist and new assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, has probed material properties and discovered new…

Climatologist Rong Fu prefers a bird’s eye view of the Earth’s climate. That’s “birds,” as in satellites, which she uses to study climate processes in remote areas such as the Amazon, the Tibetan Plateau, and tropical oceans. This perspective helps Fu understand how climate changes in these remote areas could have an impact closer to…

The Jackson School of Geosciences’ programs in climate research and education will benefit tremendously from several new high profile faculty and researchers including Kerry Cook. Her research focuses on how Earth’s surface structures—including topography, water, soil, vegetation, geology and human development—affect atmospheric circulation and precipitation and how those impacts in turn affect surface structures. She…

When Robert Dickinson began working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado in 1968, global climate models were crude and wildly inaccurate. “The code I worked with covered Los Angeles with snow,” he laughs. “That was a problem with modeling how frost forms on the ground.” He eventually concluded that the…

Tim Dooley came to the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Applied Geodynamics Laboratory (AGL) as a postdoctoral fellow in 2003 and then became a research scientist in late 2005. He received his doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 1994. His research focuses on gravity-driven salt tectonics, including both the ductile behavior of mobile salt…

Inventor, op-ed writer, policy wonk, and engineer—Michael Webber has done them all with success. But he’s just getting started on his dream job, teaching and conducting energy policy research at The University of Texas at Austin. Webber was the first person Director Charles Groat hired for his Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy (CIEEP),…

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