PhD opportunities in Experimental Geophysics for Fall 2020

PhD Opportunity in Ice Physics/Experimental Glaciology

A PhD Fellowship in Ice Physics/Experimental Glaciology is available in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences ( at the University of Pennsylvania, beginning in Fall 2020. We seek a motivated graduate student to conduct experimental studies of the rheological behaviors of ice relevant to the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets, as well as icy planetary bodies. Potential research topics include: deformation mechanisms in ice; development of crystallographic preferred orientation and implications for viscous anisotropy; the influence of soluble impurities and second phases on ice flow; grain-size evolution in glaciers and ice sheets (includes numerical modeling and experiments); attenuation in ice; and the rheological behaviors of CO2 ice and other planetary cryomaterials.  Experiments will be conducted primarily in a high-pressure gas apparatus in the Experimental Geophysics Lab at Penn, but also in a cryogenic nanoindenter. Sample microstructures and crystallographic preferred orientation will be analyzed using cryo-SEM, electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and other analytical methods in the Singh Nanotech Center ( at Penn.

PhD Opportunity in Rock Physics/Fault Mechanics 

A PhD Fellowship in Rock Physics/Fault Mechanics is available in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, beginning in Fall 2020. We seek a motivated graduate student to study the frictional behavior of rocks at quasi-static and dynamic slip rates to understand earthquake nucleation and dynamic fault slip. Rock friction behavior will be explored over a wide range of length scales, from the nanometer scale using the atomic force microscope (AFM) and nanoindenter, to microscopic (and larger) scales using the nanoindenter and more conventional rock friction apparatus. Experiments will explore frictional behavior at slip rates spanning the range from plate tectonic rates (nm/s) to coseismic rates (~1 m/s). Potential research topics include: indentation and friction behavior of minerals in the nanoindenter; indentation and nanopillar experiments to study the size dependence of asperity strength; in situ nanoindentation of minerals in the transmission electron microscope; and AFM studies of adhesion and friction of minerals. These highly interdisciplinary projects will involve close collaboration between faculty and students in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at Penn, and with nanoindentation colleagues at other universities.   

Interested students should contact Prof. David Goldsby (email: ; phone: 215 746-0090) for details.  Applications to the graduate school at Penn can be made online at