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Student Opportunities

Below is a list of current opportunities for prospective students interested in joining the department, however this list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to contact individual faculty members regarding other opportunities involving shared research interests.

Event Stratigraphy

A two-year M.Sc. position is available immediately in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario, to conduct graduate research in a subproject of a high-resolution stratigraphic study of the Middle Devonian Hamilton Group in southern Ontario, Canada.

Components of the project include aspects of paleoecology, taphonomy, biostratigraphy, diagenesis, and sedimentology. The project as a whole will involve high-resolution correlation of strata of the Appalachian foreland basin into intracratonic Michigan basin, with the ultimate aim of elucidating the depositional history of this bridging area.

The specific project the M.Sc. candidate will undertake, and the subdiscipline(s) focused on in his/her project will be tailored to the strengths and interests of the individual. Preference will be given to enthusiastic applicants with a strong interest in interdisciplinary geological research, superior academic credentials and strong communication skills. Interested applicants are urged to contact Cam Tsujita.

Geodesy / Earthquake Modelling

Positions are available for as many as three students (M.Sc. and/or Ph.D.) in either the analysis of geodetic data, primarily InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) and continuous GPS data, or the study of the physics of earthquake fault systems.

These projects will include the integration of both proven and innovative analysis techniques into a variety of models and simulation, and the visualization and interpretation of the results. Inquiries regarding specific projects should be directed to Dr. Kristy Tiampo.

Material Science

Support is now available for two M.Sc. positions shared between the Department of Earth Sciences and Surface Science Western, UWO. The candidates will investigate factors controlling the separation of mineral phases in a flotation scheme with specific reference to surface chemistry.

One candidate will be involved with: the identification of secondary ion yields in common sulphide minerals with the goal to partially determine fundamental parameters controlling variability; the creation of relative sensitivity factors (RSFs) for the primary matrix elements in the most common sulphide minerals; to create semi-quantitative calibration indices for surface modifiers and to incorporate the RSF and calibration indices into the existing surface chemical analyses technique by ToF-SIMS; to test the novel technology and its effectiveness as a predictive tool.

The second position will be related to: the activator/collector facilitated inadvertent flotation of non-value gangue silicates in problematic ores. The specific system we will address involves the flotation separation of Ni-bearing pentlandite from pyroxene which, within the Sudbury ores, occurs in two crystallographic (orthrombic versus monoclinic) species. The student will perform a number of experiments on both monoclinic and orthrombic pyroxenes by ToF-SIMS and XPS to determine the fundamental controls that promote favourable conditions for surface chemical modification and inadvertent flotation.

The successful candidate will gain experience in mineral separation technology, and a variety of surface analytical techniques including ToF-SIMS, XPS and SEM/EDX. The candidate will also work closely with and benefit from the interaction with mineralogists and metallurgists from one of the world's leaders in developmental strategies for mineral recovery.

Interested students should contact Dr. Brian Hart.

Mineral Deposits

Dr. Robert Linnen has opportunities for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in four areas, most of which will involve collaborations with mineral exploration companies. For further information please contact Dr. Robert Linnen.

  • Lithium pegmatites: Li pegmatites are currently a source for the batteries used in electric cars. There are several advanced projects in Quebec will involve geological mapping to establish the structural controls of pegmatite emplacement and evaluating lithogeochemistry and mineral chemistry as mineral exploration tools.
  • Intrusion-related gold: Detailed studies of alteration and mineralization of Archean intrusion-related deposits. Studies may also apply fluid inclusion, stable isotopes, age dating and structural analysis to understanding this deposit type.
  • Platinum Group Elements: Continued work on the Marathon Cu-Pd deposit,  including a study of the Geordie Lake deposit and characterizing the far-field footprint of mineralizing systems in the region.
  • Experimental Petrology: Experimental studies of the behavior of rare-metals, Au and PGE’s in magmatic-hydrothermal systems. Potential studies include metal solubility in melts and high temperature-pressure fluids and melt-fluid-mineral partition experiments.


Dr. Roberta Flemming at the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Western Ontario has openings for M.Sc. or Ph.D. candidates interested in pursuing fundamental or applied studies of minerals in the following areas:

  • Fundamental understanding and quantification of mineral behavior as a function of pressure (P), temperature (T) and composition (X). Projects involve mineral synthesis (at controlled P-T), and determination of crystal structure (by X-ray diffraction/Rietveld refinement), crystal chemistry (by EPMA), and cation order-disorder (by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy (e.g. 29 Si NMR provides a measure of Si/Al order in aluminosilicates). These data have application in geothermobarometry.
  • Systematic investigation of Kimberlite Indicator Minerals (KIM) (e.g. chromite, Cr-diopside). Variation in unit cell parameters (measured by µXRD) is correlated to geochemical data (by EPMA), on a grain-by-grain basis, with the aim of developing µXRD as a tool for diamond exploration. Inclusions and strain, observed by µXRD, give additional clues to origin.
  • Systematic mineralogical investigation of meteorites. In situ µXRD provides rapid mineral ID for meteorite classification, as well as unit cell parameters for addition to our growing database of unit cell parameters for meteorite minerals. Unit cell parameters can be correlated to geochemical information, and in some cases (e.g. clinopyroxene and olivine in basaltic meteorites) this may be correlated to planetary origin. Rietveld refinement of powder XRD data provides modal mineral analysis of bulk sample, and enables crystal structural study of selected phases.
  • Development of micro X-ray diffraction (µXRD) as a tool for geologists. Micro XRD provides a unique opportunity to correlate crystal structural information with other microanalytical data on the microscopic scale (50-500 µm) not previously available routinely. Furthermore, minerals can be examined in situ, preserving orientational information. Projects include:
    • Quantification of strain-related mosaicity in minerals in meteorites, impact structures, and other rocks, with an aim toward development of a µXRD strain index and calibration using existing strain indices.
    • Development of µXRD for exsolution geothermometry. (e.g. two pyroxenes). GADDS image provides simultaneous unit cell information for both phases, as well as their T-dependent orientational relationship.

Facilities at UWO include a Bruker D8 Discover micro X-ray diffractometer, High-T and High-P laboratories, EPMA, SEM, FTIR, Raman, and XRF facilities (Earth Sciences), 400 and 600 MHz solid-state NMRs (Chemistry), XPS and SIMS facilities (Surface Science Western).

If you wish to obtain more information about these projects, or other possible projects, please contact Dr. Roberta Flemming. Collaborative projects with other faculty are also possible. Research and teaching assistantships are guaranteed for all qualified students.

Mineral Physics / Materials Science

Four graduate student positions (M.Sc. and/or Ph.D. level) are available immediately in the High Pressure - Temperature Mineral Physics and Materials Science Laboratories.

  • Projects on topics involving research in any area described in the research interests of Richard A. Secco are being offered but other topics will be considered. Please direct all email inquiries to Richard Secco.
  • Projects related to the application of the diamond-anvil cell. Please contact Sean Shieh for details.

Paleobiology and Paleoecology

Projects available in biodiversity change of benthic faunas in response to greenhouse-icehouse environmental fluctuations during the Late Ordovician and Early Silurian, North America. Research opportunities are available at either the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level.

Please direct your inquiries to Jisuo Jin.

Petroleum Geology

Positions are available for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in petroleum geology of shale gas systems of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, resource characterization of Canadian oil shales, and petroleum geology of southern Ontario.

Please contact Burns Cheadle.

Petrology / Geochemistry

Dr. Neil Banerjee currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in studying hydrothermal alteration processes in oceanic crust, biogeochemical evidence for early life on Earth preserved in ancient greenstone belts, and studies of Earth environments as Mars analogues. Interested students should contact Dr. Banerjee for more information.

Planetary Evolution / Geochemistry

Support is now available for a doctoral research project to determine the oxygen diffusion rate in metamorphosed natural zircon – a key test of the recent 'cool Early Earth' or Hadean hydrosphere model that proposes oceans on Earth 4.4 billion years ago. The project area is in the Kapuskasing Uplift, Superior Province, one of the world's most complete known continental cross sections.

The successful candidate will gain experience in field mapping in a classic natural laboratory for crustal studies integrated with state of the art ion probe (SIMS) analysis of U-Pb and oxygen isotope ratios at leading laboratories in North America.

Interested students should contact Dr. Desmond Moser.

Planetary Geology

Dr. Gordon Osinski currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in studying various aspects of meteorite impact craters, comparative planetary geology (using terrestrial analogues to better interpret the observed geological attributes of Mars and other planetary bodies), and analysis of planetary materials, including meteorites.

Interested students should contact Dr. Gordon Osinski.

Sedimentary Petrology / Isotope Geochemistry

Dr. Patricia Corcoran and Dr. Fred Longstaffe are searching for a potential Ph.D. student to study Cretaceous-Pliocene weathering profiles on the South Island of New Zealand. The project involves major and trace element, and stable isotope geochemistry of paleosols that developed on the Otago Schist, in order to determine Paleozoic climates, in addition to the relative effects of chemical weathering and diagenesis on sediment composition.

Please direct email inquiries to Dr. Patricia Corcoran.

Sedimentary Petrology

Project Title: Paleoproterozoic quartz arenite of the Bar River Formation: a product of tectonic setting or intense chemical weathering?

Supervisor: Dr. Patricia L. Corcoran

A research opportunity is available at the M.Sc. level to conduct a sedimentary facies analysis of the poorly-studied Bar River Formation, Huronian Supergroup. The project will involve detailed mapping of outcrops on islands near Manitoulin Island, Ontario (Lake Huron), and sampling of different units to determine composition and textures. The results will help determine whether composition was a function of depositional environment (related to tectonic setting) or climatic conditions during the Paleoproterozoic.

Please direct email inquiries to Dr. Patricia Corcoran.


Dr. Gail Atkinson currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in seismic hazard analysis in Canada, empirical studies of earthquake ground-motion processes, and ground-motion modeling. Contact Dr. Gail Atkinson for more information.

Dr. Robert Shcherbakov is currently looking for students to work with in the areas of the physics of earthquakes, computer simulation of seismicity, continuum damage and fracture mechanics, earthquake forecasting, planetary geophysics, and simulation of complex non-linear systems. Contact Dr. Shcherbakov for more information.

Stable Isotope Science

Project Title: Stable isotope and mineralogical investigations of regional alteration and fluid flow in Neoproterozoic igneous rocks of the Maritimes, Newfoundland and related terranes.

Supervisor: Fred J. Longstaffe

Research opportunities are available at the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level to investigate the origin and evolution of fluids responsible for regional 18 O depletion and mineralization across this broad sweep of eastern North America.

For more details on the Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science please visit:

Project Title: Stable isotope studies of Holocene climate change in the Great Lakes basin.

Supervisor: Fred J. Longstaffe

Research opportunities are available at the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level to investigate Holocene climate change in the Great Lakes basin, using a variety of stable isotope proxies (e.g., ostracodes, porewater, organic carbon, carbonate, bioapatite, etc.) which can be sampled from glacial and post-glacial sedimentary and soil sequences, including cores from lacustrine environments.

For more details on the Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science please visit:

Project Title: Stable isotopic investigations of cellulose from Carolinian forests and related ecosystems in the southern Great Lakes basin.

Co-Supervisors: Elizabeth Webb and Fred J. Longstaffe

Research opportunities are available at the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level to investigate variations in the hydrogen, oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions of cellulose from a type locality (Pinery Provincial Park) in southwestern Ontario. This area contains a diverse range of ecosystems, and offers the opportunity to calibrate this potential paleoclimate proxy, and to correlate observed variations in isotopic composition with the climatic history of the area, as determined from historical records and other stable isotope proxies.

For more details on the Laboratory for Stable Isotope Science please visit:

Structural Geology

Dr. Dazhi Jiang is currently looking for Ph.D. and M.Sc. students to work on projects in the Canadian Cordillera and East China. The former project aims at better understanding the evolution of microstructures of mylonites, and the latter project strives to better understand the tectonic evolution of East China since late Cretaceous and its relationship with the thinning of the North China Craton. Interested students please contact Dr. Jiang for more information.

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