Read it and weep!
SPACE SHUTTLE IMAGE OF WYOMING, LOOKING SOUTHEAST
These days, being Department Head, I have less time, and therefore fewer students, than in the past. Nonetheless, I am always eager to read applications from quality students interested in working with me. My intention is to have a copule of graduate students at any given time, but this depends on the amount of funding I have for support. My major interest is in tectonics and sedimentation, controls on fluvial stratigraphy, basin analysis and the integration of stratigraphy with geophysical modeling.
Other members of the sedimentary program consists of Drs. Brandon McElroy and Bryan Shuman. Dr. McElroy's primary interest is in modern sedimentation, clastic sedimentology, and geomorphology of aggradational settings. Bryan 's' specializes in multiproxy reconstructions of, mostly, Holocene climate, using various aspects of lake stratigraphy. More broadly there are others with whom I work with integratively on various projects. At the moment this includes Drs. Dueker (geophysics), Grana (geostatistics), Holbrook (geophysics) and Humphrey (geomorphology). However, the faculty is very collegial and willing to work together as ideas arise. The University also has a School of Energy Research whose faculty, located in our department, include those in geophysics and geochemistry who are working in petroleum systems.
Our graduate students have done well in securing positions upon completion. Most have gone to industry (typically petroleum), others have gone into academics, consulting, or in the case of master's degree, gone on to Ph.D. programs here and elsewhere.
In terms of research directions, over the past few years my students and I have been pursuing a rather diverse set of field projects centered on either quantitative reconstruction of alluvial systems and/or discriminating between the effects of tectonics, sea level and climate on the development of sedimentary basin fills. The guiding idea is to reach a better understanding of how basins fill in response to these various controls over varying time scales. Our approach is primarily field-based, however we often compare these observations with predictions made from theoretical models. These models look at the interactions between sediment supply, subsidence and sea level over various time scales and range from simple geometric models to more complex dynamic models of how real transport systems work. Modeling provides a framework the allows us to evaluate field data and can help pin point the types of critical observations that should be made in the field.
As a result of this approach to science, we emphasize the problem and not the field area. That is, we do not choose the field area first and later think of something interesting to do, but instead start with a problem that we are interested in, think about how we can best solve that problem and finally pick a field area that is the best place to look for a solution. Thus, students do not all work in the same field area, but instead undertake projects where ever the most suitable rocks are exposed. Examples of past projects include:
Click here to link to a page showing recent research opportunities for graduate students.
Students in the soft-rock field are encouraged to learn and use different techniques as is appropriate for their individual study. While all students employ basic sedimentologic approaches, some students might also specialize in using other techniques as well, including: sedimentary petrology, geophysics, structure, biostratigraphy, geomorphology, GIS modeling or computer modeling - whatever it takes to get the job done. As a result the students who work in this program do not all look alike, but have different backgrounds and expertise.
If you were to come here, in all likelihood you would pursue a field study of some aspect of basin filling with the goal of developing a better understanding of how the stratigraphic development of the basin records some basic fundamental control such as the tectonic development of a mountain belt or how depositional systems respond to sea level or climatic events. Of course other projects can be, and have been, done depending on the particular interests of the student.
My ability to take on new students depends very much on available financial support. Most students are funded from grants or university resources. At any one time I usually have one to four students working with me directly. On average an M.S. student takes just over 2 years, a Ph.D. student takes about 3 years (after having finished his/her M.S. program).
If you are still interested in applying to the program, I would suggest you look over the rest of this web site, including my publication list (to see what I am doing) and the link to the department site. Thanks for your interest.
Last updated: June 1, 2015