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

Graduate Research Opportunities at Purdue

Atmospheric and Climate ScienceEnvironmental ScienceGeology & GeophysicsPlanetary Science

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 Matt Huber ( Huber has graduate student opportunities in climate data analysis, food-energy-water nexus modeling, and paleoclimate modeling.

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.

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Environmental Science

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.

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Geology and Geophysics

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 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.

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 focussed on understanding the geophysical properties of crustal fluids. 

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.


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Planetary Sciences

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.

Briony Horgan ( Prof. Briony Horgan has a funded PhD position available to use NASA satellite data to study the habitability of ancient surface environments on Mars. The student would use mineralogy from orbital spectroscopy along with imaging and topographic datasets to investigate ancient clay-rich weathering profiles across Mars. This will help us to better understand the chemistry and nature of surface environments on early Mars, determine whether early Mars was warm and wet or cold and icy, and establish the habitability of the early martian surface for microbial life. This opportunity is open to students from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Brandon Johnson ( I am looking for graduate students with a strong physics background to simulate the formation of impact craters. I have two NASA  funded projects that can support a student. One project is focused on the formation of lunar multiring basins and understanding their gravity signatures. The other project is focused on the formation of icy multiring basins and trying to understand what these craters tell us about the ice shells and subsurface oceans of Jupiter’s icy satellites.

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!

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