We see our planet from a different perspective. The Earth is an extraordinarily complex system that defies reduction to the perspective of a single research discipline. We thus seek the insight available at the interdisciplinary junctures between the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. We work toward the center of the rings shown below to gain new understanding of our planet's patterns, processes, and place in the cosmos.

Our research embodies the fluid, the solid and the paleontological. The marriage of these diverse scientific cultures is what gives our department its mojo.


Our Research Philosophy

Our common emphasis is upon emerging problems, techniques and observations that have the capacity to transform understanding of the earth, its biota, and its place in the cosmos. We emphasize the process of discovery and integration of ideas over the maintenance of disciplinary knowledge and its boundaries.  This has led our department to become extremely diverse in its composition and activity as exemplified by the breadth of scientific inquiries: paleobiology and paleontology, Earth materials and chemistry, geophysical processes of planetary interiors, climate and paleoclimate, oceanography, meteorology, glaciology, cosmochemistry and solar-system nebula dynamics, extra-solar climatology, stratospheric chemistry and flow, early earth surface geochemistry and clouds. Our success in defining Earth's dynamics and phenomena goes back over 100 years, and is perhaps best exemplified by the roles our students have played in the history of Earth sciences throughout the 20th century.

While presenting a range of research experiences that exceed the confines of our departmental name, we foster the exchange of ideas and methods, and give our students and research colleagues an opportunity to solve problems that cannot be pursued elsewhere.

Research Groups and Centers

A description of our research in generally organized areas (solids, fluids and paleo) is provided by the links on the left. The strength of the Department lies in its interdisciplinary inquiries on many aspects of the planet earth. The breadth of the subject is reflected in the list of our research units below, but there are many cross-cutting activities that blur the boundaries of these groups and that place each component in a broader context of the earth system science.

  • Climate and Global Change
  • Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry
  • Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Other Geophysical Fluids
  • Paleogeography
  • High Pressure Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
  • Geochronometry
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • Paleontology and Evolution
  • Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Glaciology
  • Seismology

Affiliated Centers

The department is the focal point for graduate student instruction and research, and is the principle degree-granting entity within the University for Earth science related subjects. There are several other centers and scholarly organizations (called "committees" at the University of Chicago) that engage in cross-disciplinary research interaction among several departments. Here is a list of some of these organizations: