Current Research Opportunities

Explore current faculty research groups and research projects which are actively recruiting undergraduate researchers.

Undergraduate Student Opportunities

Undergraduate and Graduate Opportunities

I regularly work with from 2-5 undergraduates and am open to co-advised honors theses and other. I feel undergraduate research is one of the most important aspects of undergraduate education.

I will be accepting several graduate students over the next two years (I average from 2-5 total).

I am particularly interested in PhD students with prior experience in systematic methods, an interest in phylogenetic or anatomical (evolution of morphology) questions concerning the evolution of birds.

I am also interested in highly motivated MS candidates with an interest in studying avian evolution. Although I have advised theses on non-avialan dinosaurs in past years, given current funded research projects, I am presently interested in advising students interested in working on birds (origin and evolution of).

Please feel free to contact me via email with any questions.

Posted by: Julia Clarke

General Opportunities in Field and Laboratory Based Studies

My position does not permit sole supervision of graduate student theses, but I co-supervise or serve on graduate student theses committees, particularly those involving aspects of GIS, GPS, structural geology, tectonics and petrology/mineralogy. I have supervised several undergraduate student honors thesis, both lab- and field-based, and look forward to continuing to do so.

Posted by: Mark Helper

Lab Assistant

Laboratory Assistants typically work in 3-5 hour blocks, helping researchers collect and process data on all techniques across the lab, as well as occasionally perform some of the few routine lab activities like carbon or gold coating, touch-up polishing, and billing.

Posted by: Phil Orlandini

Using Big Climate Data to Plan for Water Stress in the Western U.S.

Duration: 10 hrs/wk through Fall 2020, eligible for renewal for up to two years

Many communities and industries across the United States, particularly in the Western U.S., already struggle to meet their water needs. State-of-the-art climate projections suggest that climate change will only intensify these problems, but water decision-makers often struggle to apply the available climate projection data to their management needs. The student working on this project will use high-resolution climate model projections of future water cycle conditions in the Western U.S. to analyze how the metrics that matter most for regional water management may change in the future. Opportunities available to present within the University community and in external venues and to engage with decision-makers.

Helpful skills:
- Basic experience navigating a Linux-based system using the command line
- Familiarity with opening and plotting gridded data files in a programming language like Matlab or Python
- Eagerness to self-teach any new programming skills necessary
- Thoroughness with documenting code and research activities.

Posted by: Geeta Persad

Mapping Air Quality and Climate Impacts from the Major World Economies

Duration: 10 hours/week through Fall and Spring semester, full time during Summer semester.

Particle aerosol pollution has negative impacts on both the climate system and on air quality and human health. This project works to map the strength and geographic distribution of climate and societal impacts of aerosol emissions from the major world economies. The student working on this project will use high-resolution climate projection data to analyze the impact of regional air pollution on global weather patterns and air quality conditions. The student will have the opportunity to define their own research question, present research at an international scientific conference, and engage with project collaborators at other institutions.

Helpful skills:
- Basic experience navigating a Linux-based system using the command line
- Interest in climate and/or air quality issues
- Familiarity with opening and plotting gridded data files in a programming language like Matlab or Python
- Eagerness to self-teach any new programming skills necessary
- Thoroughness with documenting code and research activities

Posted by: Geeta Persad

Hydrogeochemical investigations in urban riparian zones

Hydrogeochemical investigations in urban riparian zones

Posted by: Darrel Tremaine

Speleothems and cave monitoring

Speleothems and cave monitoring

Posted by: Darrel Tremaine

Dendrochronology and dendrochemistry

Dendrochronology and dendrochemistry

Posted by: Darrel Tremaine

Sustainable Urban Systems

Sustainable Urban Systems

Posted by: Darrel Tremaine

Electromechanical instrumentation design

Electromechanical instrumentation design

Posted by: Darrel Tremaine

PhD/MS/Internship opportunities

My group welcomes new students with strong motivations on understanding how solid Earth and planets operate and its impacts on shaping habitable surface environments. Prospective students are expected to have a STEM background. If these describe you, feel free to contact me through email for position openings in my group.

Posted by: Chenguang Sun

Stable isotopes as hydroclimatic indicators

Duration: Summer/fall/spring flexible

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

Duration: summer/fall/spring flexible

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

Research Projects

Below are details of current research projects with opportunities for undergraduate students. Please contact the lead PI (Principal Investigator) for more information.

Principal Investigator(s) Project  hours / week Timing Field component
Thorsten Becker Numerical modeling of flat slab subduction and slab-continental plate interactions ~10 summer project, with continued work in the semester Potential for field work in Colombia, but numerical modeling focused
Thorsten Becker Fault localization in southern California from broadband seismic data – analysis of receiver function and shear wave splitting data 10 summer project, with continued work in the semester Potential for field work in southern California, but seismological data analysis focused
Ian Dalziel  &  Brian Horton Detrital zircon studies bearing on paleogeographic reconstructions of the South Atlantic region 15 Jan-August 2020 No field work; the samples will be collected in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands by Ian Dalziel during November 2019.
Ginny Catania Outlet glacier terminus changes 10 flexible – summer or in semester None
John Snedden Gulf of Mexico Depositional Systems ~10-20 flexible – summer or in semester None
Jud Partin Help to micro-milk samples and prepare machines for analytics measurements ~10-20 summer Yes
Nick Hayman (lead), Matthew Balhoff (Petroleum Engineering) Experimental investigation of viscoplastic polymeric gels 10 Fall-spring 2020-2021 None – lab based
Chris Lowery Picking foraminifera for stable isotope analysis of End Cretaceous Mass Extinction. 10 summer None
Chris Lowery Grain size analysis of sediments to reconstruct plankton size distribution  after End Cretaceous Mass Extinction 10 spring None
Steve Phillips, Chris Lowery Sea level rise on the Texas coast and response of salt marsh greenhouse gas cycling 10 summer Yes- sediment coring, gas flux measurements, and core analysis
Sean Gulick, Gail Christeson Mapping the infilling of the Chicxulub crater using geophysical data ~5-10 summer and/or in semester Possible
Duncan Young, Don Blankenship Reconciling Antarctic englacial layers using the Landmark seismic package 20 spring-summer None
Duncan Young, Jamin Greenbaum, Cyril Grima Documenting 30 years of radar data interpretations for release to a international compilation of Antarctic ice thickness data 20 spring-summer None

Research Groups

Afu LinAfu Lin’s Mineral Physics Lab

NSF REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) opportunities in mineral physics, planetary interiors, and methane hydrate research.

Additionally, Dr. Lin helps connect students with summer research internships in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China

MartindaleMartindale Research Group

Contact Professor Rowen Martindale ( about research opportunities in mass extinctions, reef paleo-ecology, and more!

PoteetWaller Creek Research Group

Upper division students interested in environmental monitoring? Contact Mary

The response of creek ecosystems to restoration efforts in Urbanized watersheds

Using Waller creek as a case study, we synthesize data from environmental sensors, measures of organic matter dynamics, and surveys of algal biomass and production to assess whether large-scale restoration efforts lead to “sustainable” creek ecosystems – meaning that the energy produced within the creek ecosystem (including riparian) can provide enough energy to sustain diverse creek communities. I currently need upper division students to conduct research on 1) spatio-temporal dynamics of dissolved organic matter, 2) seasonal shifts in algal production in relation to anthropogenic nutrient influxes, and 3) work with environmental sensor data to assess whether/how specific hydrologic changes alter metabolic regimes in creeks – as measured by dissolved oxygen dynamics.


Have good programming skills? Interested in oceanography?

Contact Patrick Heimbach ( about potential opportunities in the context of ocean and ice sheet modeling and data analysis.

LoweryInterested in micropaleontology or paleoceanography? Opportunities coming soon!

Contact Sean Gulick and Chris Lowery

GardnerInterested in magma chamber dynamics, pyroclastic flow behavior, volcanic degassing and eruption?

Contact Jim Gardner at

Stockli Labs CropStockli Research Group

The Stockli research group has a long tradition of involving undergraduate students in field and laboratory based research. For example:

  • “Long-term cooling history of Llano Uplift” – Claire Andrews (2017)
  • “Detrital Provenance of Pennsylvanian Strawn and Cisco sandstones in central Texas” – P. Standring and T. Ditges (2020)

2019 Undergraduate Research Opportunities (more possibilities)

  • Libyan Glass – Geochronology of meteorite Impact Glass the Sahara Desert (lab)
  • U-Pb of calcite veins in the Oman ophiolite by LA-ICP-MS (lab)
  • Detrital Provenance of the Permian Delaware Mountain Group in West Texas (field and lab)

Please contact Dr. Daniel Stockli at

Mark Helper Research GroupMark Helper 174 Thumb

Contact Mark Helper ( about opportunities to study rocks (and maybe gems!) of Central Texas and Northern California.