Graduate Study

One of my favorite parts about working in the academic world is having a chance to collaborate on research with motivated students.    I’m always on the lookout for potential M.S. and Ph.D. students.    Please contact me if you have any interest in seismology and geophysics research at CSU.

Ongoing Research

My current research can be characterized has having two main themes; in both cases these revolve around trying to better understand the lithosphere and asthenosphere.

The first theme involves using seismic waves to map structures within the earth.   I use seismic travel time observations and waveform analysis to create maps of velocity variations, impedance contrasts, and directional dependance of velocity variations within the earth, with a goal to understanding the processes behind tectonic features such as volcanic regions, mountain chains, or ancient convergent boundaries.    Sometimes this involves putting seismometers out and collecting data, and other times this involves analyzing existing data.

The second theme of research revolves around constraining fundamental properties of the deep earth, such as its density, temperature, composition, and strength.     This includes several projects that aim to understand mantle temperatures and compositional variations.   A goal is to better incorporate multiple observables (such as seismic wave observations plus gravity) to constrain temperature, melting, and composition, in a probabilistic manner.    Having some knowledge of petrology or mineral physics would be useful here, although it is not essential.

If you are interested in graduate study with us CSU, that’s great!    Please send me an email–it helps if you can tell me a little bit about what aspect of my research interests you, and give me some information on your background, grades and test scores.   I came into this position via a non-traditional route, so I have a strong appreciation for a variety of backgrounds.

Recommended Background

I’ve found many great graduate students come from physics, math, engineering, or geology backgrounds.    If you are interested in geophysics and seismology, but don’t have a geology background, that’s okay–especially if you’ve had an introductory class in geosciences.

Having some experience with programming, As and Bs in math and physics classes, and GRE scores in the 75% percentile are all positive indicators of success, and I would strongly encourage you to contact me if that is the case.    Note that CSU will not accept students with a GPA < 3.0.    Regardless of background, organization, hard work, passion, and determination are the primary traits of a successful graduate student.

How to Apply

Here are a couple of links that our department provides on how to apply for graduate school:

Funding for graduate study typically comes from competitively awarded departmental teaching and research assistantships.    These are granted primarily based on student GRE scores and GPA.    I don’t control who gets these, as they are decided upon by a faculty vote; however I have been fairly successful in getting teaching assistantships for students.

Research grant funding may also be available, but usually not for first-year students who are still learning how to do research.    Another option is to come in with one’s own funding.

Department Rankings

  • 2014 Best Global Universities, Geosciences: #34
  • U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 Best Graduate Schools: #77.

Life in Fort Collins

We work hard at CSU, but we also have fun.   Fort Collins is an incredible place to live.   It’s not too hard to leave town in the morning and hike up to the Continental Divide in time to have lunch.    Skiing, backpacking, climbing, kayaking–pretty much any outdoor activity is easy to do here.   Moreover, the city itself is nice.    Traffic is nothing compared to most places, and one can easily get around with a bike.   In fact they actually snow plow the bike paths before the roads here.

Here is a picture of a recent M.S. student checking a seismic station in the Mackenzie Mountains.

IMG_2694Last updated January 9, 2018.


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