Current Research Opportunities

Openings for Graduate and Undergraduate Students

2022 Galileo Circle Scholarship

Kiana McFadden

Studies asteroids and other small bodies using radar and thermal data.
(Advisors: Lynn Carter and Ellen Howell)

Graduate 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.

Cislunar Space Exploration

Professor Erik Asphaug (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOm5mY3VuaHRAeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj5uZmN1bmh0QHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=)

Looking for a planetary sciences graduate student interested in mentoring an engineering-based group of undergraduates in projects related to space missions related to lunar lava tube exploration, asteroid landers, and future human mission support infrastructure.


Regents' Professor Dante Lauretta (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnluaGVyZ2duQG5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj55bmhlcmdnbkBuZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=)

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 a graduate student 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 ( Interested students are encouraged to contact Dr. Lauretta prior to submitting their application.

Early Martian Evolution

Associate Professor Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOndwbnVuYWFuQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+d3BudW5hYW5AeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

Little is known about the earliest evolution of Mars during a period known as the pre-Noachian. This project will explore the volcanic, tectonic, and climate processes operating on early Mars using a combination of modeling and data analysis.

Lunar Geodynamics

Associate Professor Jeffrey Andrews-Hanna (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOndwbnVuYWFuQHljeS5uZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+d3BudW5hYW5AeWN5Lm5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

The Earth's Moon was much more dynamic in its early history, with evidence for a range of volcanic, techtonic, and geodynamic activity. This project will investigate volcanism, tectonics, and the early evolution of the Moon using gravity and topography data.

Planetary Analogs and Planetary Surfaces

Associate Professor Christopher Hamilton (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnB1bnp2eWdiYUBuZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+cHVuenZ5Z2JhQG5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

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

Associate Professor Tyler Robinson (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmdxZWJvdmFAcnpudnkubmV2bWJhbi5ycWgiPmdxZWJvdmFAcnpudnkubmV2bWJhbi5ycWg8L24+)

Chemical disequilibrium is a potential metabolism-agnostic biosignature. For modern Earth, most of the disequilibrium energy generated by life works to maintain molecular nitrogen and oxygen in the presence of liquid water. Our project would explore the feasibility of remotely sensing this signature for Earth-like exoplanets. One graduate research opportunity is available for this project.

Assistant Professor Sukrit Ranjan (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmZoeGV2Z0B5Y3kubmV2bWJhbi5ycWgiPmZoeGV2Z0B5Y3kubmV2bWJhbi5ycWg8L24+)

1-2 graduate research opportunities are available in photochemical modeling of the surface-atmosphere systems of rocky worlds, with applications to biosignature and/or origin-of-life studies. Specific focus areas include exoplanet volcanism, nitrogen and sulfur cycling on early Earth, and the atmosphere of Venus. Please contact the PI for expressions of interest.

Titan and Outer Solar System

Assistant Professor Tommi Koskinen (PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOmdienp2eEBuZXZtYmFuLnJxaCI+Z2J6enZ4QG5ldm1iYW4ucnFoPC9uPg==)

Saturn’s moon Titan is shrouded by a thick organic haze, the formation of which begins with complex photochemistry in the upper and middle atmosphere of the satellite. Observations by different instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft, complemented by ground-based observations after the end of the Cassini mission, greatly extend our understanding of the chemistry and dynamics in Titan’s upper and middle atmosphere. One graduate student opportunity is available in this area. The project consists of applying state-of-the-art retrieval techniques to data obtained by the Cassini/UVIS instrument, followed by using data from multiple instruments together with models to build a more holistic view of the atmosphere.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Arizona Space Grant

Can you imagine yourself working with a faculty mentor to develop a lunar rover controlled over the internet? To study the effects of zero-gravity on muscles and other organ systems? To devise a system for "mining" fuel from the Martian atmosphere? Or to study the effects of climatic and other changes on planet Earth? Imagine no more. The UA/NASA Space Grant Program will employ undergraduate students for 10-20 hours per week during the academic year to work alongside upper-level graduate students and practicing scientists.

ASTEROIDS Laboratory

Providing undergraduates majoring in science and engineering, especially those traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the opportunity to broaden their education with a rich, hands-on experience and the full process of inquiry and discovery. Research and education will focus on utilizing planetary science principles for conceiving, implementing and validating space technologies, from systems design and control solutions, to robots and sensor networks, to mobility and excavation on small bodies.

UArizona Graduate College Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium

The University of Arizona Graduate College administers the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium (UROC), a group of ten research programs.