Current Research Positions

Current undergraduate paid and unpaid research positions and general faculty research projects for undergraduate researchers.

Analyzing seismic data using machine learning techniques

Seismic recordings are used to detect earthquakes and to create images of the Earths interior. Seismic data contain rich patterns that can be discovered for extracting detailed information. Newly developed machine learning techniques aid in the discovery process. Deep learning has been used to detect arrivals of seismic signals from earthquakes and volcano eruptions and to extract from subsurface images such features, as faults, channels, salt bodies, etc. In detecting geological features, computational algorithms prove to be as powerful or even more powerful than the human eye, especially in higher dimensions.

In this project, we are adopting the latest ideas from the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the resolution ability of seismic images. Our objective is to advance the state of the art in discovering seismic data patterns. The approaches include unsupervised learning for analyzing seismic waveforms and compressing data in the transformed domain and supervised learning for teaching the computer how to imitate the work of human interpreters.

We are seeking an enthusiastic student to participate in this project. The student will develop data-analysis skills and contribute to an open-source software project. Some prior familiarity with seismology and machine learning, as well as some prior experience with computer programming using Python are helpful but not required

Posted by: Sergey Fomel

Research Inner-Space Cavern fossils (Paleontology)

Dedicated, enthusiastic undergraduate student(s) sought to help work on fossils from Inner Space Cavern in Williamson County, Texas. Student(s) will help with screen-washing, sorting, identifying, and curating vertebrate fossils from Ice-Age sediments in the cave. Students will learn aspects of the anatomy of the vertebrate skeleton as they contribute to studying patterns of vertebrate diversity through time in the context of climate change. Potential opportunities exist for motivated students to pursue independent supervised research related to the main questions associated with this project. Projects begin in the Fall, 2022 semester. Interested students should contact John Moretti (jamoretti@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).

Posted by: Christopher Bell

Research Phillips Cave fossils (Paleontology)

Dedicated, enthusiastic undergraduate student(s) sought to help work on fossils from Phillips Cave in Crockett County, Texas. Student(s) will help with screen-washing, sorting, identifying, and curating vertebrate fossils from Ice-Age sediments in the cave. Students will learn aspects of the anatomy of the vertebrate skeleton as they contribute to broadening our understanding of vertebrate paleobiogeography on the Edwards Plateau. The project is under way and volunteers can be brought on board immediately. Interested students should contact Stacie Skwarcan (sskwarca@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).

Posted by: Christopher Bell

Research Triassic vertebrates (Paleontology)

Undergraduates interested in Triassic vertebrates of Texas and the Colorado Plateau!! Get involved with new research including digital segmentation of CT-scanned specimens from Petrified Forest National Park and the University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collections, preparation of vertebrate fossils collected by the WPA in the early 1900s, and photographic documentation of those materials. Opportunities exist for students to develop independent research related to the main questions associated with this project. Projects begin in the Fall, 2022 semester. Interested students should contact Will Reyes (will_reyes@utexas.edu) and Chris Bell (cjbell@jsg.utexas.edu).

Posted by: Christopher Bell

Geomechanics and Geofluids Summer Intern

Duration: Summer 2022

The Geomechanics and Geofluids Group is looking for a summer student research intern to make geomechanical measurements on rock samples with the research team. The student researcher will work independently and/or with staff on experimental setup, equipment maintenance, laboratory clean up, sample preparation, data analysis, and a host of other tasks.

Posted by: Peter Flemings

Geomechanics and Geofluids Summer Intern

Duration: Summer 2022

The Geomechanics and Geofluids Group is looking for a summer research intern to assist a research team making geomechanical measurements on rock samples. The student researcher will work independently or with staff and researchers on experimental setup, equipment maintenance, laboratory clean up, sample preparation, data analysis, and a host of other tasks.

Posted by: Peter Flemings

Geomechanics and Geofluids Summer Intern

Duration: Summer 2022

The Geomechanics and Geofluids Group is looking for a summer research intern to assist a research team making geomechanical measurements on rock samples. The student researcher will work independently or with staff and researchers on experimental setup, equipment maintenance, laboratory clean up, sample preparation, data analysis, and a host of other tasks.

Posted by: Peter Flemings

Geomechanics and Geofluids Summer Intern

Duration: Summer 2022

The Geomechanics and Geofluids Group is looking for a summer research intern to assist a research team making geomechanical measurements on rock samples. The student researcher will work independently or with staff and researchers on experimental setup, equipment maintenance, laboratory clean up, sample preparation, data analysis, and a host of other tasks.

Posted by: Peter Flemings

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Duration: ongoing

The position entails working as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) as part of a research team in support of an oil and gas industry funded project which focuses on the depositional history of the Gulf of Mexico. URAs work with geophysical data, geographic information systems, geosoftware and scientific literature to accomplish GBDS research goals. This position is ongoing: 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters. Up to 40 hours during summer.

Posted by: Jonathan Virdell

Environmental Reconstruction in Holocene Estuaries on the Modern Texas Continental Shelf

Duration: 1 year

Sea level rise is one of the most pressing impacts of climate change facing coastal communities. A variety of mitigation efforts on the local and regional level (beach nourishment, marsh restoration, coastal barriers, etc.) can provide some measure of protection for coastal communities. These large engineering projects require huge quantities of sand to complete, and sand is not as common on the seafloor as you might expect. On northern Texas shelf, offshore Galveston Bay, a few sand banks exist, but much more material is buried in drowned river valleys, which were carved by rivers when sea level was ~120 meters lower and dry land extended all the way to the edge of the continental shelf. These rivers deposited sand in point bars, which were then buried in estuarine mud as sea level rose and the river valley became a bay. Sand was also deposited in this estuary as bay head deltas, flood tide deltas, and over wash fans. UT is currently involved in an extensive project to find and map (using seismic surveying and sediment cores) the extent of Holocene sand deposits in the Trinity and Sabine river valleys offshore modern Galveston Bay.

For this project, the REU student will conduct grain size analysis on sediment cores collected offshore Galveston Bay to determine the overall sedimentology and stratigraphy of these environments. This student will also use marine microfossils (benthic foraminifera) to determine the depositional environment of the muds deposited in between the sand deposits to determine the overall environmental evolution of the Holocene estuary system. This work will help identify sand resources for future coastal protection projects in the Galveston area. This work will also help reconstruct the history of the Holocene estuary and barrier island system; understanding how ancient barrier island systems responded to different rates of sea level rise during the Holocene can help constrain how barrier islands will respond to similar rates of sea level rise today.

This project will involve work on a Malvern Mastersizer laser grain size analyzer, managing grain size datasets, and microfossil picking on a microscope. Prior experience with any of these things is not required.

Apply through the Champions of Diversity website: https://jsg-gen.squarespace.com/mentee-application

Posted by: Christopher Lowery

Quaternary Evolution of Mississippi Submarine Canyon

Duration: Position duration is unknown

Michael Sweet (Institute for Geophysics) is looking for an undergraduate student researcher to use bathymetric and seismic data to understand the evolution of the Mississippi Submarine Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico. The researcher will learn to interpret seismic data and use ArcGIS software to integrate bathymetry and other geospatial data. The student will receive a $2500 scholarship from the Institute for Geophysics. Depending on progress, there may be opportunities for publication.

Posted by: Michael Sweet

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates

This summer program trains and supports undergraduates to undertake environmental science research. Details may be found at https://www.esi.utexas.edu/education/summer-research-experience-for-undergraduates-reu/.

Posted by: Jay Banner

NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates

This summer program trains and supports undergraduates to undertake environmental science research. Details may be found at https://www.esi.utexas.edu/education/summer-research-experience-for-undergraduates-reu/.

Posted by: Jay Banner

Stable isotopes as hydroclimatic indicators

I am looking for an undergraduate student researcher to work on the analysis of stable isotopes in natural waters and plant materials. No experience necessary. The student researcher will be trained in extracting water samples on a vacuum system and analysis of stable isotopes using a laser spectrometer. Depending on progress, there may be opportunities to publish this research

Posted by: Timothy Shanahan

Paleoclimate reconstructions in the southern Rocky Mountains

I am looking for one or more undergraduate student researchers to work on paleoclimate reconstructions in the southern Rockies using geochemical indicators in lake sediments. No experience necessary. Depending on progress, there will be opportunities to publish.

Posted by: Timothy Shanahan