My research focuses on the mechanics and kinematics of deformation at plate boundaries and spans a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. I examine the geomorphic expression of young, active faults, and I study older remnants of deep-seated ductile shear zones exhumed from greater depth within the lithosphere. I apply a wide range of field, structural/microstructural, geochronologic and analytical methods. For more detail, feel free to check out the Behr Research Group web page.

Areas of Expertise

Mechanics and kinematics of deformation in continental lithosphere, rheology of the crust and upper mantle, mechanisms of strain localization, experimental rock mechanics, tectonic geomorphology and long term slip rates and hazard on large-scale strike-slip faults.

Research Locations

Current Research Programs & Projects

Long term slip-rate of the Banning strand of the southern San Andreas Fault at Devers Hill

Mechanisms and longevity of strain localization during dynamic recrystallization of olivine aggregates

Present-day rheology of the lithospheric mantle beneath the western Mojave from naturally deformed peridotite xenoliths

Structural evolution and geochronology of subduction complexes in the Betic Cordillera of southern Spain.

GSA Young Scientist Award (Donath Medal) - Geological Society of America (2016)

Departmental Knebel Outstanding Teach Award, UT Austin - Dept. of Geological Sciences, UT Austin (2016)

NSF CAREER Award - National Science Foundation (2016)

Departmental Outstanding Teaching Award - Dept. of Geological Sciences, UT Austin (2015)

Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award - Geological Society of America (2013)

Post-doctoral Research Fellowship - Brown University (2011 - 2012)

Exploration Post-Doctoral Fellowship (declined) - Arizona State University (2011)

Oakley Fellowship - University of Southern California (2010 - 2011)

WISE (Women in Science or Engineering Fellowship) - University of Southern California (2010)

Teaching Award, Petrology - University of Southern California (2008)

Outstanding Graduating Senior, College of Math and Science - California State University Northridge (2006)

Keck Fellowship - University of Southern California (2006)

Outstanding Graduating Senior, Geology Department - California State University Northridge (2006)

L.G. Collins Scholarship - California State University Northridge (2005)

Martin Van Couvering Award - AAPG (2004)


Kyle Ashley
Kyle Ashley is a Jackson School of Geosciences Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow working with Prefessor Whitney Behr. Kyle earned his BSc at SUNY Potsdam, his MSc at the University of Vermont, and his PhD at Virginia Tech. His research is focused on the evolution of metamorphic and igneous systems, applying pseudosection analysis, petrographic assessment, geochronology, and conventional and unconventional thermobarometric techniques to unravel changes in a rock’s pressure, temperature, fluid, mineralogy and deformation across time. Lately, Kyle has been studying the theory and application of trace element thermobarometers (e.g. Ti-in-quartz), as well as making advances in utilizing included minerals in rigid hosts for thermobarometry purposes with the application of elastic theory. He is currently studying rocks from Scotland, Himalayan Mountains (India, Nepal, and Bhutan), Greece, northern Appalachians, the Adirondack Mountains, Australia, Colorado, Lesser Antilles (Caribbean), and Madagascar.

Nicholas J Dygert
Nick earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Rochester and his PhD at Brown University. His research focuses on understanding the physical and chemical evolution of the terrestrial and lunar mantles using experiments, numerical models, and field studies. Subjects of active research include an experimental study of the rheology of ilmenite and ilmenite-bearing aggregates, characterization of the thermal history of the upper mantle and the geological processes that affect it, and trace element geochemical investigations into lunar cumulate mantle overturn, melt migration in the mantle, and other dynamic processes in planetary interiors To learn more about Nick's research, visit his personal research site.

Graduate Students

Rachel Bernard, Ph.D., expected 2018 (Supervisor)
My research, under the guidance of Dr. Whitney Behr, focuses on the present-day rheology of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Mojave region and the controls on lattice preferred orientation in natural deformed mantle rocks. I am also very active in outreach and science communication as a student in the [link:]UT Museum Studies Graduate Portfolio Program[/link], and as a participant in the [link:]UT Scientist-in-Residence Program[/link].

Peter O Gold, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Supervisor)

Owen A Callahan, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Committee Member)
I am interested in fluid flow in faults and fractures, specifically the interplay between chemical alteration, mechanical deformation, and conduit evolution in hydrothermal systems.

Travis Clow (Supervisor)

Juan Munoz (Supervisor)

Nikki M Seymour (Committee Member)
I am a structural field geologist with a particular interest in large-scale tectonics. My research uses geo- and thermochronology to understand the thermal structure and temporal evolution of rifting at magma-poor margins to answer an unresolved question in plate tectonics -- How do you break a continent?

Carolyn Tewksbury Christle (Supervisor)

Alissa J Kotowski (Co-supervisor)
I'm pursuing my Ph.D. at the Jackson School of Geosciences, working with Whitney Behr and Danny Stockli. I graduated from Boston College in 2014, where my undergraduate research background focused on Earthquake Migration along the North Anatolian and Alpine Faults with links to regional tectonics and structure. My broad interests encompass tectonic processes, structural geology and metamorphic petrology. My research at UT focuses on the structural and rheological evolution of high-pressure metamorphic rocks during subduction and exhumation from Syros, Greece. More broadly, I'm interested in large-scale geodynamic processes, and the links between rock rheology and seismic processes in subduction zones.

Pamela Speciale (Supervisor)
My research interests include paleopiezometry, rock mechanics and strain localization in the lithospheric mantle. I am examining stress-grainsize relationships in feldspar and orthopyroxene in naturally deformed rocks, in an effort to test experimental extrapolations of these relationships to estimating stress in the lithosphere. I am also exploring the mechanisms and longevity of strain localization in the lithospheric mantle through experimental deformation of dry olivine aggregates.


2016Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2016Spring GEO 394 Rsch Struct Geo/Rock Rheology
2016Spring GEO 391 Microstructures/Rock Rheology
2016Spring GEO 381K Tectonic Problems
2015Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2015Fall GEO 428 Structural Geology
2015Spring GEO 394 Rsch Struct Geo/Rock Rheology
2015Spring GEO 193 Technical Sessions
2015Spring GEO 391 Neotectonics
2014Fall GEO 394 Rsch Struct Geo/Rock Rheology
2014Fall GEO 193 Technical Sessions
2014Fall GEO 428 Structural Geology
2014Summer GEO f660B Field Geo-Tx/Nm/Co/Wy/Mt/Id/Ut
2014Spring GEO 394 Rsch Struct Geo/Rock Rheology
2014Spring GEO 391 Microstructures/Rock Rheology
2014Spring GEO 381K Tectonic Problems