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Research Opportunities

Graduate students pursuing an MS degree are expected to be involved in research, but there are research opportunities for MA graduate students and for undergraduates. Individual faculty members are involved in a diverse range of research endeavors. If you are interested in a particular area of research you should contact the professor or professors involved to find how you may get involved. The “Where We Research” page shows a map of the world with red dots in areas where faculty have research efforts.

Each spring, the College of Science & Engineering hosts a Student Research Symposium (SRS) with more than 150 poster presentations by CSE graduate and undergraduate students on their research within the college. There are competitive awards for the best posters.

SERC (Science and Engineering Research Center) offers competitive undergraduate research grants within the College of Science & Engineering.

Dr. Alsleben has research opportunities in the lab and field.
Lab studies:
Currently lab opportunities are mostly core analysis studies trying to understand what factors control rock strength in unconventional reservoirs. Most studies will be based on XRF analyses for the chemical evaluation of the core and in-situ rock strength testing using portable hand-held devices. Additional components might include XRD, TOC and possibly isotope analyses. Other potential core analyses may involve evaluating healed fractures in thin section and possible using SEM analyses. Results from these studies could provide ideas as to when fractures formed, which has some interesting implications from a rock fracturing/strength evolution perspective. Ultimately, it would be nice to upscale the core observations to the log scale, which would make it a much more useful tool for an explorations geologist. Cores available for analysis are mostly from the Barnett Shale in the Fort Worth basin currently at our core facility.
Field Studies
Currently projects are available in Big Bend and the Northern Sierra terrane in California (the latter co-supervised with Dr. Richard Hanson). There are some interesting regional and more detailed structural (particular fracture) studies that could be done in the Big Bend area. Outcrop could be evaluated with field work in conjunction with use 3D Lidar technology, which we have available in-house. Mapping in the northern Sierra Nevada would focus on regional and local problems related to deformation associated with the accretion of the terrane and studies related to pluton emplacement and fabrics.

Dr. Holbrook supports a wide range of projects focused on both modern and ancient depositional processes.  Most research is geared directly toward field examination of modern systems and rock exposures coupled with a hit of modeling.  While students of Dr. Holbrook work across the spectrum of sedimentary environments, his specialty is fluvial systems.  Themes of this research are quantification of sedimentary process, controls on stratigraphic preservation of surficial depositional systems, reservoir/aquifer architecture, and driving controls on surficial sedimentary systems.  Currently, most of Dr Holbrook’s research is supported by the Fluvial Research Group, a consortium of mostly energy companies, and addresses fundamental issues sedimentary/stratigraphic issues related to fluvial systems that impact industry.  Locations of study are always changing.  Examples of projects and places where students currently conducting research include:  fluvial point bars of Dinosaur Proventil Park, Alberta; Quaternary and modern processes in the Missouri River Valley; delta formation in Texas lakes; high-accommodation/wet floodplain processes in the Paleocene Raton Fm of the Raton Basin, Pennsylvanian strata of the Breathitt FM, Ky., and the Grijalva River of Mexico.