Planetary geoscience at the University of Chicago
Graduate Student and Postdoc Opportunities
Opportunities are available for undergraduates to assist in and/or lead rocky-planet geoscience research both in the summer and during the academic year. Proficiency in a widely-used scientific programming language is a prerequisite for many of the projects. Please contact Edwin Kite (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. This opportunity is primarily for University of Chicago undergraduates; however, students from other universities may also be considered. Funding for international students to travel to Chicago for this work is available. Update 15 December 2020: Projects are available for one or more University of Chicago undergraduates during 2021. Examples:
- Does climate change trigger Marsquakes? The Insight Mars lander has detected fewer large Marsquakes than was expected before landing. The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that Mars today is seismically quiet because a climate change 5 Mya caused a past burst of Marsquakes, relieving stress on faults. Requires: Confident coding diffusion equation in a widely used scientific programming language (e.g. Python, Matlab).
- Were Mars canyons carved by springflow or runoff? Branching canyons adjacent to Valles Marineris on Mars might be carved by surface runoff (rain and/or snowmelt), or groundwater discharge. The surface runoff hypothesis predicts that each canyon head is a local maximum in topographic drainage area, which can be tested using terrain models constructed from Mars orbiter stereo images. Requires: Confident on the command line. GIS experience and advantage. Ames Stereo Pipeline training will be provided.
- Comparison of methods for estimating ancient river flow. The paleo-discharge of dry rivers on Mars can be estimated using Mars orbiter imagery using a variety of different methods. However, these have not yet been systematically compared to each other at sites where multiple methods can be applied. The purpose of this project is to do the comparison and quantify the between-method uncertainty in Mars paleo-river discharge. Preferred: GIS experience.
- Structural geology of a very ancient Mars mountain range. Mars has been a one-plate planet for at least 90% of its history. However, the fold orientations of a very ancient Mars mountain range may provide clues to lithospheric structure and tectonics at even earlier times. Requires: Enthusiasm for and quantitative experience with structural geology.
- Seeing through the chaos of Mars history. Mars undergoes chaotic obliquity variations with an amplitude more than 20 times greater than those that triggered Earth's ice ages. This leads to very large chaotic climate changes. We have developed a method to retrieve the true past obliquity using the orientation of elliptical impact craters (Holo et al. EPSL 2018). The purpose of this project is to measure the orientation of more elliptic craters in order to retrieve (for the first time) past obliquity versus time.
Graduate students interested in planetary science are encouraged to apply to admissions to the graduate program. For specific questions about the planetary geoscience group, please contact Edwin Kite. The University of Chicago provides expertise across all disciplines of planetary science, cosmochemistry, and exoplanets.
Postdoc applicants should apply for the Chamberlin Fellowship typically announced in September for a start date the following summer. Applicants will be considered for other postdoc opportunities specific to our group.