Department Life

Weekly Events

This is a partial list of events which tend to happen every week in the fall, winter and spring quarters.

Friday Seminars

Distinguished invited speakers give talks on a range of topics of interest to the department. Students are expected to attend all seminars. Fridays at 2:00PM in Hinds 101 (see calendar for current schedule).

Noon Balloon

A department-only seminar series in which faculty speak for 30-45 minutes. Speakers are chosen at random the day before. Topics typically cover current research, but may cover related fields (past examples include the carbon inventory of tar sands, or the physics of metalsmithing). Fridays at 12:40PM in the Goldsmith Room (Hinds 176).

DoGS Lunch

A seminar series by graduate students, for graduate students. Each week, there is a 30-45 minute talk from one of the graduate students (chosen at random the week before, as with Noon Balloon) and free lunch (speaker's choice). Students mostly discuss their research, but sometimes give talks on other interests, such as how to make a good figure or how to navigate the postdoc job market. It's a great way to get practice presenting in an environment of peers. Postdocs and undergraduates welcome as well! Wednesdays at 12:30PM in Hinds 249 beginning the second week of the quarter.


Geounion (an undergraduate organization) hosts weekly talks given by faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students involved in geophysical sciences research. Dinner is provided. Announcements of weekly talks and other geounion events are sent through our listhost.

Journal Clubs

There are several journal clubs in the department where students and faculty meet to discuss papers. The largest of these are:

  • Climate/Fluids Journal Club. Students and faculty lead a group discussion on a paper chosen the previous week. Everyone reads them, everyone talks, the presenter gives a brief introduction and directs discussions. Each quarter has a different theme, with recent themes the solar system, climate variability, mass extinction events, and aerosols. Announcements are sent through this listhost. Mondays at 12:30PM in Hinds 451.
  • Paleobiology Journal Club. A discussion of the latest advances in paleobiology including paleobiogeography, paleoecology, evolutionary processes, and taphonomy. Mondays at 12:00PM. 
  • Death at Noon. Discussion of current in-house findings relating to taphonomy of recent and fossil ecosystems. Fridays at 12:00PM.
  • C^3 Meetings. A mix of group discussions on papers and informal talks on cosmochemistry and related solar system studies, run by the Chicago Center for Cosmochemistry (link). Thursdays at 12:30PM in Hinds 176.

Coffee Hours

The department hosts coffee hours twice weekly. A fresh pot of coffee is percolated and there are snacks and an assortment of teas. Mondays at 2:00PM and Thursdays at 9:00AM in the Goldsmith Room (Hinds 176).


After the last seminar of the day. Speakers, faculty, postdocs and graduate students get together for an informal happy hour. It's a great chance to meet the day's speakers, or to get ready for the softball game which sometimes follows. Fridays at 4:30PM (location varies).

Annual Events


Towards the end of each spring quarter, 3rd year graduate students organize a student symposium. Faculty, research staff and students take a break from their regular Friday schedules and dedicate the full day to listening to 15 minute talks from graduate students.

Undergraduate Research EXPO

Undergrads, particularly senior thesis students, also have their day in the spotlight. Late in each spring quarter, these students present their work to the department in 15 minute talks, following a lunch to celebrate this step toward graduating with honors.