Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows Program

Currently there are no open positions, but the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin regularly recruits creative, enterprising, collaborative, and community-engaged postdoctoral scholars to conduct independent research on topics that advance our understanding of Earth as a system. The postdoctoral scholars work with researchers and faculty across the Jackson School on topics that include, but are not limited to:

  • The confluence of environmental and human health;
  • Water resources and water-energy security;
  • Climate change and environmental extremes;
  • Coastal processes and sea-level change;
  • Energy systems, including transitional and alternative sources, and infrastructure (e.g., geothermal, gas hydrates, hydrogen, CCS, energy and environmental economics);
  • Subduction zone geodynamics;
  • Computational fluid- and solid-Earth geophysics;
  • Natural hazard modeling and monitoring;
  • Planetary evolution and habitability.

Recruitment is currently closed for these positions. Check back on this page for updates about future openings.

Current Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows

Ekaterina (Katya) Larina  (beginning 2022) received her PhD from the University of Southern California. Ekaterina is an interdisciplinary geoscientist that bridges research between paleoecology, geochemistry, geobiology, sedimentology, and earth-system modeling. Specifically, her expertise includes the investigation of the ammonite ecology, the end-Triassic and the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinctions. Ekaterina is interested in ecological and environmental trends during major earth-life perturbation events, and what lessons we can learn to understand the consequences of future warming, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation on marine ecosystems.

Past Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows

Andrew Moodie (2022-2023) received his PhD from Rice University in Houston, TX. He is a geomorphologist and sedimentologist interested in landscape change at a variety of time and space scales. His research focuses on river and delta environments, which possess an abundance of natural resources that are critical for human life. He primarily uses numerical models to explore how sensitive these environments are to various external processes and forcings. Now (i.e., as a JSG postdoc), he is using numerical modeling to understand the development of rivers and deltas on Mars. 

Kyle Ashley (2015-2017) received 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, and since 2017, he has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

William Foster (2015-2017) received his PhD from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University. William is a paleoecologist primarily interested in the recovery of marine invertebrates following the late Permian mass extinction event. His research focuses on how subsequent environmental change following the late Permian mass extinction led to shifts in the recovery of the benthos and if wave-aerated settings provided a ‘habitable zone’ allowing diverse benthic life, in particular reef ecosystems, to survive and recover following major climate warming. He is currently at Universität Hamburg’s Department of Earth Sciences.

Tim Goudge (2015-2017) received his Ph.D. from Brown University. Tim is a spectroscopist and planetary scientist studying the surface geology of Mars to further understand the planet’s climatic and hydrologic evolution. He is interested in how aqueous surface processes are recorded in both landscape topography/geomorphology, and the mineralogy and stratigraphy of the sedimentary rock record. He is currently a member of the faculty in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nick Dygert (2014-2016) received his PhD at Brown University. He is a petrologist/geochemist interested in the physical and chemical evolution of the terrestrial and lunar mantles. Nick’s research focuses on mantle melt migration, the thermal history of the upper mantle, petrogenesis of lunar basalts, lunar cumulate mantle overturn, and trace element partitioning in systems relevant to Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Since 2017, he has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Burch Fisher (2014-2016) received his Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Burch’s research is broadly interested in how landscapes evolve with respect to complex linkages between climate, tectonics, organisms, and humans at the Earth’s surface. To this end, his projects are diverse in both spatial (Himalaya, Andes, North America) and temporal scales (10^0 – 10^6 years) and have generally relied on several distinct data sets to decipher and quantify landscape drivers and signatures, including geochemical (cosmogenic and fallout radionuclides, U-series, etc), topographic (terrestrial and airborne lidar), remotely-sensed (TRMM, ASTER, GeoEye, etc), and field-based observations. In 2016, he accepted a post doc position at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science.

Tieyuan Zhu (2014-2016) received his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University in 2014. Tieyuan is an exploration seismologist who seeks to solve challenging energy and environment problems using seismic waves. His interests include advancing understanding of physics of seismic wave propagation in real Earth media, time-reversal, seismic inversion & imaging, time-lapse monitoring, and microseismic. He is now a member of the faculty at Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Celia Dalou (2013-2014) received her Ph.D. at Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans. Before joining us, she was a post-doc fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington DC. Research interests: volatile and trace element partition coefficients, solubility and solution mechanisms of halogen elements in silicate melts, anion and cation substitution processes in mantle minerals, volatiles cycle in subduction zones. Her project here focuses on developing the Cl/F ratio as tracers of hydrous and carbonated mantle melting. Dr. Dalou accepted a position as a Research Associate in Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota in January 2015.

Shannon Loomis (2013-2015) received her Ph.D. at Brown University. She is interested in developing and applying organic geochemical proxies to reconstruct past climate using lake and marine sediment archives and combining reconstructions with climate models to better understand the mechanisms behind past and future climate change. Dr. Loomis accepted a position as a Data Scientist with Nimble Storage in August 2015.

Michael Toomey (2013-2015) received his Ph.D. through the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. Research interest: developing tropical cyclone records from the Solomon Islands and Baja California to test hypothesized forcings (e.g. ENSO, Insolation) and understand geographic patterns of storminess in the tropical Pacific. Dr. Toomey accepted as position as Research Geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in April 2015.

Hejun Zhu (2013-2015) received his Ph.D. at Princeton University. Research interests: Seismic tomography at regional and local scales, seismic migration for hydrocarbon exploration, numerical simulations of seismic wave propagation, seismic structure of the crust and upper mantle, strong ground motions and kinematic/dynamic rupture simulations of large earthquakes. Dr. Hejun accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Dallas in September 2015.

Owen Anfinson (2012-2015) received his Ph.D. at the University of Calgary. He specializes in the use of heavy mineral geo-, petro-, and thermo- chronology to understand the geologic evolution of sedimentary basins and their source regions. Current field areas include the Swiss Molasse Basin, Italian Foredeep, and basins within the circum-Arctic. Dr. Anfinson accepted a position as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin in September 2014. Dr. Anfinson then began a position as Assistant Professor in the Geology Department at Sonoma State University in Fall 2015.

Ryan McKenzie (2012-2014) Ph.D. in Geology at the University of California, Riverside. Research interests: understanding Earth system evolution at various temporal and spatial scales via utilization of integrative methods (e.g., sedimentary geology, geochemistry, detrital zircon geochronology, & biostratigraphy). Dr. McKenzie accepted a position as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University in January 2015.

Andrew Smye (2012-2014) specializes in exhumation mechanisms, isotope systematics of metamorphic rocks, thermal models of crustal evolution, and phase equilibria calculations. Dr. Smye accepted a position as a NERC Independent Research Fellowship to work on noble gas systematics of subduction at University of Oxford, U.K. in Fall 2015. Dr. Smye will then begin a position as Assistant Professor for the Department of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University in Spring 2016.

Elizabeth Cassel (2011-2013) received her Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in 2010. Most recently, she was a visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin & Marshall College. By combining field stratigraphic, pedogenic, geochronologic, and isotopic research, Dr. Cassel proposes to study the topographic and climatic history of the region that is now the Basin and Range (the proposed ‘Nevadaplano’) through the early-middle Cenozoic – a time period of global climate change and significant tectonism affecting topographic change across the western US. Dr. Cassel accepted a position as an Assistant Professor with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Idaho in March 2014.

Jeffrey Marsh (2011-2013) received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Maine in 2010. Most recently, he was a Faculty Fellow at Colby College. Marsh’s research project aims to precisely define the P-T-t-d path recorded by metamorphic core packages and their overlying units using detailed geologic mapping, integrated microstructural, petrological, and geochronological analysis, and phase equilibrium modeling. Dr. Marsh accepted a position as an Assistant Professor with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Queens College in January 2013.

Jakob Vinther (2011-2012) received his Ph.D. in paleontology and molecular biology from Yale University in 2011. Vinther is a molecular paleobiologist who seeks to understand broad scale patterns of body plan evolution. As a postdoc at the Jackson School, he plans to further explore the fossil record of early Paleozoic invertebrates by the integration of molecular biology and the fossil record. He has been studying fossil color patterns along with the Jackson School’s Julia Clarke. See this National Geographic/UT Austin video on some of his recent work. Dr. Vinther accepted a position as a Lecturer in Macroevolution with the Schools of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol in August 2012.