Finding a Supervisor

Choosing a supervisor is one of the most important decisions you'll make in graduate school. They'll be your mentor and adviser, and you'll work together closely throughout your graduate career.

Researching Potential Supervisors

You should select a supervisor with a strong record of research and publication in your area of interest. When looking into potential supervisors for your program, become familiar with the type of research they do and their working style.

  • Read journals or conference papers, and sit in on any presentations.
  • Look at their web site and read their CV. Their publications should give you a sense of the type of research you'd be doing.
  • Talk to their students to get a sense of how you'd fit together.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Contact each of your potential supervisors to discuss your research interests, and see if they would be interested and available. Be sure to ask them about their availability during your graduate program, and whether they're planning any extended absences during that time. When considering potential supervisors you should talk to several professors before asking one to become your supervisor. Be sure you understand what your prospective supervisor would expect of you as a graduate student.

Current Available Graduate Projects

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.


Students are sought (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) for a variety of studies on meteorites and analogue materials to investigate formation, shock and cosmic ray irradiation processes. Graduate projects are available with several researchers in the Department. Some example projects include:

  1. Extended investigation of newly discovered meteorites.
  2. Investigation of the bulk properties and mineralogy of the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite: a) as an analogue for primitive bodies in the Solar System; and, b) as a mechanically friable material which survived dynamical evolution and atmospheric entry (Dr. Peter Brown). 
  3. Calibration of shock metamorphism in meteorites as observed by optical petrography, micro X-ray diffraction and other techniques, using experimentally shocked materials (Dr. Roberta Flemming)

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.

Dr. Nigel Blamey is conducting research into ancient oxygen spanning both the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic, using halite-hosted fluid inclusions to measure the ancient atmospheric oxygen level. Please contact him for further information.


Dr. Rob Schincariol currently has openings for one M.Sc. and one Ph.D. student interested in geothermal energy, primarily the thermal performance, sustainability, and impact of borehole heat exchangers (BHE’s) within hydrogeological environments. The overall objectives of the research program are (1) develop generic industry usable tools that allow for the design of efficient and sustainable closed-loop borehole heat exchangers within hydrogeological environments, and (2) develop methodologies for utilizing subsurface waste heat generated in bitumen (oil sands) recovery operations. The first objective is broad based and looks at bridging the current divide between hydrogeological based studies of heat transport and geothermal energy, and mechanical engineering based design of borehole heat exchangers. Research involves the use of BHE’s under freezing ground conditions and the use of BHE’s to mitigate permafrost degradation. The second objective is specifically focused on the unique environment of bitumen recovery operations and involves both waste energy utilization and thermal remediation. An integrated approach is used including field, lab, and numerical simulations.

Mineral Deposits

Dr. Robert Linnen has opportunities for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students in three areas, two 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. Projects 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 stable isotopes, age dating and structural analysis to understanding this deposit type.
  • Experimental Petrology: Experimental studies of the behavior of rare-metals and precious metals in magmatic-hydrothermal systems.

Dr. Nigel Blamey is currently conducting research into MVT and gold deposits, focussing on fluid inclusion studies to answer the genesis of these deposits. Please contact him directly for more information.


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

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

  • (2 students) 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 spectroscopy (synchrotron X-ray, Raman and IR), strength, elasticity and structure of Earth and planetary materials, and their applications using the diamond-anvil cell. Please contact Sean Shieh for details.

Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment, Mitigation, and Management

Dr. Katsu Goda currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in multi-hazard risk assessment related to earthquake-triggered disasters (e.g. shaking-tsunami-liquefaction/landslide, mainshock-aftershock, and shaking-ground deformation), early warning system, and real-time hazard-risk forecasting. Contact Dr. Katsu Goda for more information.

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.

Paleomagnetism and Tectonics

M.Sc. and Ph.D. students are sought by Dr. Phil McCausland for tectonic studies using paleomagnetism and associated geochronological and geochemical investigation of field localities related to several themes:
  • Neoproterozoic through Paleozoic Avalonia terrane: Investigation of the Avalonia terrane’s Neoproterozoic relationship with West Gondwana and its Paleozoic tectonic and structural history along Laurentia’s eastern margin during the amalgamation of the supercontinent Pangea.
  • Paleozoic Laurentia: Development of the as-yet poorly constrained Ordovician and Devonian paleomagnetic record for Laurentia.
  • West Africa relations with Laurentia: Investigation of Late Neoproterozoic through Cambrian volcanic and intrusive rocks in Laurentia and West Africa to test paleogeographic relationships between West Gondwana, Laurentia and peri-Gondwanan terranes.
Please direct your inquiries - or other project suggestions!- to Dr. Phil McCausland at

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.

Dr. Catherine Neish currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in the landscape evolution of planetary surfaces, using remote sensing data sets, field work, and modeling to understand how planets change over time. Specific projects include understanding the emplacement of impact melt on the Moon and the degradation of impact craters on Saturn’s moon Titan.


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

Dr. Katsu Goda currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in earthquake source process and modelling, ground-motion modelling, probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, and uncertainty quantification associated with seismic hazard mapping. Contact Dr. Katsu Goda for more information.

Dr. Sheri Molnar currently has openings for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students interested in 3D earthquake wave propagation modelling, earthquake site effects and site response, developing geophysical methods for site characterization, and mapping of natural hazards.

Stable Isotope Science

Students in the Longstaffe group measure oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen isotope variations, and other geochemical and mineralogical parameters, to address the following general questions:

  1. What controls the distribution of heavy versus light stable isotopes of the same element among Earth materials, and what does it tell us about the Earth System?
  2. What controls the hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of clay minerals? How can these data be used to understand lithosphere-hydrosphere-biosphere-atmosphere interaction in the Earth System?
  3. How do we read past and present isotopic records of climate, environment and ecology? What can we learn about the Earth System? Can we go “Back to the Future” with this knowledge?
  4. What is the climatic, environmental and/or ecological significance of the stable isotope, chemical and mineralogical signatures recorded by proxy* materials preserved in lacustrine sediments, terrestrial soils and sediments, and plant and animal remains?

*Proxies include – but are not limited to – shelly fauna, organic matter, pollen, cellulose, n-alkanes, phytoliths, diatoms, bone, teeth, hair, feathers, antler, tusk, fur, collagen, keratin, bioapatite, amino acids, etc.

All students are required to perform their own analyses and help with the care, maintenance and repair of equipment. This technical training, in addition to their subject field, makes them attractive to employers. Many former students now manage or are technologists in major laboratory facilities throughout the world. Others have academic appointments or professional positions in the private sector or government.

Currently available projects include:

  • Origin and evolution of Paleozoic shales from the Appalachian and Michigan basins, Ontario
  • Oxygen and hydrogen isotope fractionation between clay minerals and porewater
  • Climatic change in the Great Lakes region since ~15,000 BP
  • Climatic controls on the hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of water vapour, precipitation, surface and subsurface water in the Great Lakes region
  • Controls on the carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen isotope compositions of ancient and modern plant tissues
  • Stable isotopic investigations of Pleistocene fauna and megafauna diet, migration and extinction and associated climatic, environmental and ecosystem change

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.