Research


A researcher wearing a white lab coat works in the lab holding a small tool

The Department of Geology has several strong disciplinary groups that place the department and its faculty at the forefront of research in these areas. Read more about these groups by clicking on the tabs below.

Research Areas

Here at the University of Kansas we have a thriving Geobiology program. 

  • Jennifer Roberts' lab researches microbes and their interactions in geologic systems
  • David Fowle’s lab researches on microbial biogeochemical cycling of elements in the environment
  • Alison Olcott’s lab uses organic geochemistry to explore the preservation and distribution of life in Earth’s past and present.
  • Craig Marshall’s lab applies geospectroscopy to astrobiological and geobiological questions about the state and preservation of carbon.
  • The Geology departments Geobiology web site.

An internationally recognized program, KU Geophysics’ faculty and students are engaged in pioneering research in near-surface seismology, exploration geophysics, ground-penetrating radar, hydrogeophysics, structure and dynamics of active orogens, and applications of GIS technology to geological problems. Working in Greenland and Antarctica on environmental issues, monitoring aquifers in the United States or engaging in exploration geophysics and the quest to understand hydrocarbon reservoirs throughout the world, KU Geophysics’ students graduate to multiple job offers. The program has a long track record of graduates with successful careers in industry, government and academia.

Students may earn a MS or PhD degree with emphasis in geophysics. Successful students gain an advanced theoretical and applied geophysics education, both in the classroom and in the field, built on a strong geology and physics foundation. Most incoming students have undergraduate degrees in geology, physics, or geophysics, but we encourage students with backgrounds in mathematics, computer science, or engineering also to apply.

Financial Support

Backed by generous alumni and a university foundation with more than $1 billion in assets, KU Geophysics provides financial support for research, travel and other expenses. These scholarships and fellowships are in addition to the financial aid that is provided by KU.

Curriculum

KU Geophysics offers a variety of course, including classes in exploration geophysics, data processing and analysis, and geophysical data interpretation. Fieldwork and an extensive research program are also emphasized.

Kansas Geological Survey

Based at KU, The Kansas Geological Survey expands KU Geophysics’ expertise, facilities and provides greater access to field equipment. The Survey and its Exploration Services section develops innovative methods of high-resolution shallow seismic imaging of the subsurface. The section also monitors changes and identifies regional trends in the High Plains, Dakota and alluvial aquifers.

Geology department Geophysics site

The Glaciology and Remote Sensing Group collaborates with several faculty members at KU that do glaciology-related research, including our colleagues at CReSIS (Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets), and in the Geography and Geology departments. Glaciology is a multi-disciplinary field, and we welcome potential collaborators who provide new observational, modeling, or analysis tools to our research. We are also often looking for graduate students with strong programming, modeling, remote sensing and quantitative skills.

Hydrogeology at KU is listed among the top programs in the US by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA top programs). Visit the Hydrogeology website for more information about hydrogeology at KU and please feel free to contact us with any questions

Paleontology at The University of Kansas was recently ranked fifth in the nation by the U. S. News and World Report, and the Paleontological Society, in its assessment of paleontology collections, ranked KU's fifth among universities. Both MS and Ph.D. degrees are awarded. The department has been successful in placing graduates both in academia and industry.

The Paleontological Institute at the University of Kansas is the global hub for production of the world-renowned Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, along with other paleontological publications. The Treatise project, founded in 1948 by the late Geology Professor R. C. Moore, involves hundreds of paleontologists worldwide and is one of the longest-running scientific enterprises in history, providing an invaluable resource for all aspects of invertebrate paleontology.

KU Sedimentary Geology – including the University’s renowned carbonates program – is one of the most celebrated programs of its kind in the nation. Established more than a century ago by the founders of the field, KU Sedimentology boasts of faculty members who work daily with the energy industry and bring in millions in grants and contracts. For students, KU Sedimentology also provides lucrative scholarships and fellowships along with research funding and opportunities that can take them around the world.

More than a dozen energy companies send representatives to recruit at KU every year. KU also hosts a thriving industry-academic partnership called the Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium, which provides students with the opportunity to work with companies that could hire them after they graduate. With new faculty hires joining the program and a new building in the planning stage, KU Sedimentology provides an ever-expanding list of opportunities.

Financial Support

Backed by generous geology alumni and a university foundation with more than $1 billion in assets, KU Sedimentology provides financial support for research, travel and other expenses. These scholarships and fellowships are in addition to the financial aid that is provided by KU.

Curriculum

KU Sedimentology offers a variety of classes, but the key to the program is the balance between student experiences in the classroom, laboratory and field. KU Sedimentology offers several field courses every year. Recent trips have studied deepwater deposits in southern California, the regional geology of Puerto Rico and the sediments of Sapelo Island, GA. KU Sedimentology also partners with industry, bringing alumni like Shell’s Brad Prather to campus to teach short a course and sending students to Chesapeake Energy for a core workshop, for example.

Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium

This industry-academic collaboration is based at KU, allowing students to work with companies before they graduate. Current industry participants in the Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium are Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, BHPBilliton, Devon, Saudi Aramco, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Pioneer Natural Resources, Repsol YPF, SandRidge Energy, and HighMount Exploration and Production.

Kansas Geological Survey

Based at KU, The Kansas Geological Survey expands KU Sedimentology’s expertise and facilities, and provides an even greater access to field equipment.

There is more information on KU Geology's sedimentary programs at the Sedimentary Geology site.

The Tectonics and Geochronology group specializes in geochronology, thermochronology, geochemistry, petrology, GIS applications, and structural geology. Research projects currently span the globe, including Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, Italy, Tibet, Turkey, and the central and western United States. Our facilities include a TIMS lab with two mass spectrometers, an excimer LA-HRICP-MS lab, as well as a geoanalytical clean lab. Students of all levels are offered classes and seminars that cover these various aspects of geology. As you browse through our website, you will find information about the faculty, staff, students, courses offerred, as well as details on our facilities in the department. Prospective students will find information about current opportunities for graduate work and research here at KU.

KU Geology hosts a thriving industry-academic partnership called The Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium, which provides funding for research. The students involved in the KICC work directly with the people who can hire them after graduation.