Research Opportunities

A selection of current research opportunities for prospective graduate students is listed here. If the topic or potential advisor you are seeking is not listed here, please contact a faculty member directly for information regarding available projects and positions.


Cosmochemistry

Planetary Analogs and Planetary Surfaces

Planetary Dynamics and Astrobiology

Planet-forming Disks and Exoplanets

Cosmochemistry

Regents Professor Dante Lauretta (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnluaGVyZ2duQGJlcmsueWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj55bmhlcmdnbkBiZXJrLnljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=), Assistant Professor Jessica Barnes (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnd3b25lYXJmQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+d3dvbmVhcmZAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==), Assistant Professor Pierre Haenecour (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmN2cmVlckB5Y3kubmV2bWJhbi5ycWgiPmN2cmVlckB5Y3kubmV2bWJhbi5ycWg8L24+), or Professor Thomas Zega (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmdtcnRuQHJ6bnZ5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj5nbXJ0bkByem52eS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=)

The NASA OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return mission is returning pristine samples from near-Earth asteroid Bennu to Earth in September 2023. The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is recruiting graduate students interested in working on these samples as part of their Ph.D. dissertation research in Planetary Sciences. Research programs are centered on understanding the origin and early evolution of the solar system, formation and dynamical evolution of near-Earth objects, astrobiology, and asteroid resources. Student research will rely on cosmochemical analyses of the returned samples using the instrumentation in the Kuiper Materials Imaging & Characterization Facility. Accepted students will have the opportunity to work with LPL faculty members Jessica Barnes, Pierre Haenecour, Dante Lauretta, or Thomas Zega. Interested students are encouraged to contact one of these researchers prior to submitting their application.

Come work on asteroid Bennu samples (PDF)!

Planetary Analogs and Planetary Surfaces

Associate Professor Christopher Hamilton (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnVuenZ5Z2JhQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+dW56dnlnYmFAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

A graduate research opportunity is available for one or more students to become involved with aspects of planetary analog research and remote sensing to explore and model aspects of planetary volcanism and related geologic surface processes.

Planetary Dynamics and Astrobiology

Regents Professor Renu Malhotra (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmVyYWhAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj5lcmFoQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=)

Dynamical stability analyses of nearby planetary systems

Assessing the stability and time-variability of the orbits of terrestrial-mass exo-planets is critical to assessing whether such planets are actually likely to be habitable and how dynamic their habitability could be. For this project, we seek a graduate student to study the dynamical stability and the time-variability of planetary orbits in nearby multi-planet systems, with a focus on identifying candidate habitable planets. This project is funded by a new award from NASA's Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research, NASA-ICAR. Inquiries are also welcome from prospective graduate students with other funding who might be interested in planetary orbital dynamics research in my group. More information is available from Professor Malhotra’s web site.

Planet-forming Disks and Exoplanets

Associate Professor Ilaria Pascucci (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmNuZnBocHB2QHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+Y25mcGhwcHZAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

I have two graduate student positions available in my group. One position is supported by the NASA Alien Earth project and aims at constraining pebble accretion planet formation models by combining ALMA millimeter observations with JWST infrared spectroscopy. The other project is supported through two accepted JWST proposals and will use infrared spectroscopy to establish how planet-forming disks evolve and disperse. Students/Post-docs that join my group with external funding are welcome to pursue the research topic of their choice. See my website for the full extent of research activities carried out in the group.