Research Opportunities in the Department

December 18, 2020


EES grad opportunities – Fall 2021.

For more information about the opportunities below, please contact the relevant faculty. Contact information for EES faculty members can be found here.



Alex Gysi:

Two funded PhD positions in the hydrothermal geochemistry of rare earth elements in the Ore Deposits and Critical Minerals Research group.



Nicole Hurtig: MSc students in economic geology



Alex Rinehart/Nicole Hurtig: projects on Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) - time-dependent high-pressure, high temperature fracture experiments, flow-through and batch experiments characterizing which fluid additives will enhance fracture, and the experiments simulating well-bore fracture at reservoir conditions, with national lab and other university collaborations



Matt Heizler/Matt Zimmerer: masters level student to conduct volcanology studies that includes significant geochronology to determine the eruption history of caldera forming ignimbrites in New Mexico and Colorado and perhaps elsewhere in the southwestern USA. This student will be integrated into a larger collaborative study seeking to understand the Cenozoic geological history of the Colorado Plateau region with emphasis on plateau uplift history and evolution of river drainage systems


Matt Zimmerer:  Opportunity for a MS student to work on volcanism in West Antarctica. This project involves 40Ar/39Ar dating of subglacial lava flows at Mount Waesche to understand Quaternary eruptions and their relationships to the evolution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the last interglacial period


Ryan Leary: Evolution of the La Jencia Basin, Rio Grande Rift

This project will study the sedimentologic and paleoclimate evolution of the La Jencia basin, a sub-basin of the Rio Grande Rift just northwest of Socorro. This basin contains ~4 km of Miocene-Pleistocene lacustrine, fluvial, and alluvial fan strata that have never seen any detailed sedimentologic or provenance research. The exposure is excellent, there are numerous interbedded tuffs which will provide excellent age control, and it's about a 40 min drive from NMT. Research will be field- and laboratory-based, and the graduate student working on this project should expect to spend ~6 weeks in the field spread over their first year at NMT. 



Glenn Spinelli: 2 new grad students to work on a research project examining fluid and heat transport in the Juan de Fuca Plate entering the Cascadia subduction zone.  The project will include a research cruise to collect seismic reflection and heat flow data offshore Washington and Oregon.  One of the new graduate students will focus on collecting the seismic data on the cruise; post-cruise, they will determine the distribution of sediment and model the thermal alteration of those sediments. The other new student will focus on collecting heat flow data on the cruise; post-cruise, they will develop numerical models of fluid and heat transport in the oceanic crust.


John Naliboff:  PhD student to work on forward modeling of deformation within the Earth’s tectonic plates. Specific topics may include opening of the Gulf California, transport of volatiles within active subduction zones, and development of new numerical methods to support these activities. Qualified candidates should have a strong foundation in physics, math, and programming, and applicants with degrees in physics, applied math, engineering, and Earth science will all be considered!


Susan Bilek: various projects in environmental seismology, subduction zone earthquake studies



Dan Cadol: Over the past 4 years, my lab group has collaborated with the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers on bedload sediment research in an ephemeral arroyo near Socorro. We have built a sediment monitoring station that includes direct bedload measurement (pit traps, aka slot samplers) acoustic surrogates (pipe-microphones) and seismic surrogates. I hope to hire one new student to use these results to evaluate and improve the sediment transport modules in the various models that the USACE has developed: HEC-RAS (1- and 2-D), and AdH. The research is motivated by river system management, and the need to maintain sediment continuity, but there are many basic science questions we've been able to pursue, including the seismic work funded by NSF.


In order to advance goals related to resilience and sustainability, urban systems must be considered in the context of their surrounding regional rural systems. NMT, UNM, Colorado State, Washington State, U of Arizona, and Northern Arizona are collaborating on a proposal to the NSF Sustainable Regional Systems program to investigate trajectories for sustainability in the Intermountain West. The NMT student would focus on characterization of the potential impact of climate change and disturbance, especially wildfire, on trans-basin water diversions. We will explore sources of vulnerability and resilience in both the contributing watershed and the receiving watershed. How are risks distributed across the system of water users for different disturbances such as wildfire, pest-pathogen outbreak (e.g., pine beetle), medium-term (hydrological) drought, long-term (ecosystem) drought, and ecotone shifts?