Graduate Research Opportunities at Purdue - Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences - Purdue University Skip to main content

Graduate Research Opportunities at Purdue

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at Purdue University is looking for enthusiastic and self-motivated graduate students for a variety of research projects in Geology and Geophysics, Planetary, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences. As a multidisciplinary department within the College of Science, EAPS draws students from a variety of STEM backgrounds. Students with demonstrated academic and research excellence are invited to explore the research opportunities listed below. We believe diversity makes our department stronger and our science better, and so we proudly encourage students from underrepresented or minoritized groups to apply or simply contact us to learn more about our program by emailing Emjai Gregory.

Atmospheric and Climate Science

Professor Dan Chavas (  Interested in studying how hurricanes or severe thunderstorms work and how they may change in the future? The Climate and Extreme Weather Laboratory in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at Purdue University, led by Prof. Dan Chavas, is seeking graduate students to study these topics using computer simulation experiments, observations, and theory. We explicitly and proudly seek to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups in our field. If you are interested, send an email to Dan Chavas for more information and/or to ask any questions. I’d love to hear about your background and interests and let you know more about myself, our group, and our department.

Professor Lei Wang ( am looking to recruit graduate students in large-scale atmospheric dynamics and climate dynamics. Opportunities exist to learn and apply geophysical fluid dynamics to better understand Earth's atmosphere and climate dynamics using a hierarchy of theoretical and idealized numerical models. Specific projects include jetstream dynamics, extreme weather, weather-climate continuum, the role of moisture on the mid-latitude circulation. Students will have the freedom to develop their research projects as they progress towards a Ph.D. Students will also have the opportunity to enroll in Purdue's Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs to broaden their education. Students who majored in atmospheric sciences are preferred. Applicants with a strong background in math and physics and an interest in atmospheric science are also encouraged to apply. Please contact me at if you are interested.

Environmental Science

Professor Greg Michalski ( Seeking a graduate student starting summer or fall of 2022. The student will work on the NSF-funded climate change project on how global warming will impact precipitation in the southwestern US by analyzing paleosols in the Death Valley. Additional projects in include air, soil, and water pollution and astrobiology analogs.

Professor Lisa Welp ( Seeking a graduate student starting fall 2023 to work on an NSF-funded project on critical zone processes in managed agricultural land. The student will use precipitation, soil water, and tile drain discharge water stable isotopes and chemistry to identify water flow paths and nitrogen transformation through the soil.

Geology and Geophysics

Professor Roger Bryant (  I am looking for PhD students to join my lab in fall 2024 and beyond. My lab will use geochemistry (e.g., ion chromatography and mass spectrometry) to study the Earth system. Potential projects might involve: Investigating fossilization pathways, tracing the oxygenation of Earth’s surface through geologic time, early Earth analog studies, understanding environmental instability around mass extinctions, reconstructing ocean pH, or anything else you want to study!

Professor Jonathan Delph (  I'm looking for quantitative geologists or applied physicists interested in relating computationally-intensive datasets to geologic and tectonic phenomena. Multiple opportunities exist to learn and apply passive-source seismic imaging and seismic interferometry techniques (both static and dynamic) to the tectonics/geodynamics of Earth. Specific research projects include tectonic contributions to seismic anisotropy, the imaging of magmatic plumbing systems, and investigating variations in crustal and upper mantle properties in the Pacific Northwest. Other opportunities include developing and improving seismic techniques to recover Earth’s crustal properties on both local and regional scales.

Professor Yunyue Elita Li (  I am looking for motivated geophysicist interested in seismic monitoring of carbon sequestration. Research projects involve fluid flow and seismic wave simulation using high performance computing, time-lapse seismic imaging using distributed acoustic sensing, and physics-based machine learning. Other flexible opportunities and research ideas can also be explored with mutual interests.

Professor Nathaniel Lifton (’m looking for motivated geoscientists with strong quantitative and geochemical backgrounds interested in developing and applying novel techniques using in situ carbon-14 and other cosmogenic nuclides for surficial process and paleoglaciology studies. Carbon-14’s short half-life makes it ideal to study late Pleistocene/Holocene exposure histories and rapid surface process rates, providing a perspective often difficult to resolve with long-lived or stable cosmogenic nuclides. Other possible projects might include updating/refining models of global cosmogenic nuclide production systematics, depending on student interests.

Professor Stephanie Olson ( I am looking for students interested in using climate and/or biogeochemical models to investigate Earth system evolution. My group is particularly interested in the evolution of Earth’s ocean-atmosphere-climate system as it relates to the history of life on our planet, but this work is inseparable from studies of the solid Earth and the solar system more broadly. Potential projects include studies of the Faint Young Sun Paradox and Archean habitability, snowball glaciation in the Proterozoic, or the oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere.  

Professor Douglas Schmitt ( Field and laboratory based opportunities in rock physics and geomechanics, active source surface and borehole seismology, and scientific drilling.  Current interests include combined studies along the Alpine Fault, the Chicxulub Impact crater, and the nearby Kentland Crater and laboratory studies focused on understanding the geophysical properties of crustal fluids. Upcoming  potential opportunities center on sequestration of CO₂ ,  underground storage of H₂ , drilling into volcanic edifices in New Zealand and Malawi, and seismic/drilling investigations of Barringer crater.  More fundamental studies seek to understand the stress dependent behavior or rock and the physical properties of highly damaged materials.

Professor Marissa Tremblay ( I am recruiting a graduate student (MS or PhD) interested in applying low-temperature thermochronology and/or cosmogenic nuclide geochemistry to questions in tectonic geomorphology. Prospective students should have a strong quantitative background, and experience with computer programming is desirable. This student will join a vibrant cohort of graduate students, postdocs, research scientists, and faculty that make up the T@P group (Thermochronology @ Purdue). Interested prospective students should contact Marissa to discuss specific project ideas and opportunities.

Professor Xiaotao Yang ( There are opportunities to develop and apply high-resolution seismic imaging and advanced data analysis methods to study tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and transient seismic velocity changes. Regions of interest for research projects include but are not limited to the Aleutian-Alaska margin and the interior, the North-American midcontinent, and the western United States. Beyond these opportunities, I will support your research ideas and provide the platform needed to facilitate your success! Contact me to discuss potential projects.


Planetary Sciences

Professor Briony Horgan ( Prof. Briony Horgan has a funded PhD position available to work on the Mars 2020 rover through the Mastcam-Z camera team. The student would assist with rover operations and lead scientific studies of the geology of Jezero crater on Mars, integrating data from Mastcam-Z, other rover instruments, satellite remote sensing data of the landing site, and Earth analog field and laboratory studies. This opportunity is open to students from a wide variety of backgrounds, but has citizenship requirements. Please contact Prof. Horgan for details.

Professor Brandon Johnson ( I am looking for graduate students with a strong physics background to simulate impact processes and the formation of impact craters. Potential projects include but are not limited to working to understand the origin of Martian meteorites through impact ejection, simulating the formation of the South Pole-Aitken basin or other similar large basins, or working to understand the effects of impacts on Europa.

Professor David Minton ( Are you interested in understanding the origin story of our Solar System? I use computer simulations along with observational data to help understand the origin and evolution of planetary and satellite systems, and if this sounds interesting to you, then reach out to me! I'd be happy to tell you about the projects we've worked on in my research group, the projects I'd like to pursue, and any ideas for projects that you might have!

Professor Stephanie Olson ( I am looking for students interested in using climate and/or biogeochemical models to investigate planetary habitability and exoplanet ‘biosignatures’ that may indicate the presence of life on distant worlds. Recent work in my group has focused on the habitability of worlds with much more water than Earth and high-obliquity planets that experience dramatic seasons compared to Earth. Opportunities also exist to study the habitability of planets orbiting M-dwarf stars like TRAPPIST-1 and their biosignatures.

Professor Mike Sori ( Opportunities to use NASA spacecraft data to study problems in planetary geophysics and surface processes throughout the solid worlds of the Solar System.  Specific topics may include ice and polar science on Mars or geodynamics on Europa.  Students will have the freedom to customize and develop projects as they progress towards a Ph.D.  Applicants from a diverse set of backgrounds are encouraged to apply, especially those with previous coursework in math or physics.

Professor Michelle Thompson ( I’m looking for a student who will work on understanding the alteration of carbonaceous asteroidal surfaces through returned sample analysis. This student would use electron beam techniques (scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy) to analyze samples returned by recent sample return missions including Hayabusa2 (see sample image) and OSIRIS-REx.

Professor Roger Wiens ( Prof. Wiens may accept a new graduate student to explore Mars with the laser spectroscopy based ChemCam, SuperCam, and SHERLOC instruments on the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers and/or to spark development of new instruments for an upcoming mission. The work includes instrument operations on the rovers and research into scientifically relevant topics in Mars geochemistry and mineralogy. Interested candidates should contact Prof. Wiens. Some nationality restrictions apply.

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