Undergraduate Research Opportunity- Structural Geology in Spain

UWM Undergraduate Geoscience students conducting research in Spain

Recording structural data on ipads

Hello, everyone!

I am excited to announce undergraduate student research opportunities in structural geology within our project on strain localization in the Southern Iberian Shear Zone in southwestern Spain. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and involves professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students from UWM and our 3 partner institutions in Spain: Complutense Universidad de Madrid, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, and Universidad de León.  Our core scientific question is seeking to unravel the various factors that control strain localization at a major ductile shear zone.  We are looking for our next small team of UWM undergraduates to join us!

Undergraduate students will learn how to take structural field measurements, collect rock samples, and work on an integrated project studying the deformation, metamorphism, and chemical changes that occurred during a major tectonic event (the Variscan Orogeny) approximately 350 million years ago. Individualized student projects may involve aspects of structural geology, metamorphic petrology, geophysics (rock magnetic fabrics), geochemistry, and geomatics (high precision laser scanning of outcrops).

Students will gain experience in structural geology field methods and research, enjoy a cultural experience working in Spain with international colleagues, have their expenses paid, and receive a stipend for their participation.

To be eligible for the project, a student must be a declared Geosciences major enrolled at UWM.  Undergraduate students must plan to conduct a follow-up research project with me in Fall 2024 through the SURF program. Students must be US citizens or permanent residents, have a valid passport (or able to get one), and ability to travel to Spain in May 2024. Students at all levels are encouraged to apply; however those who participated in previous years of the field study are ineligible. Those with relevant experience in geosciences coursework, teamwork, research, field experiences, and/or Spanish language skills will be most competitive for selection.  Most importantly, we are looking for students who can become valued members of our research team, are willing to learn new things, and contribute to our scientific discoveries!  We strive to make our field teams diverse and inclusive, and make the trip and scientific work accessible. All eligible students are welcome to apply!

Timeline for students selected for the project:

  • Spring Semester 2024: students will take a 1 credit course (S/U) where we will prepare for the field campaign by reading about the regional geology and meeting our international collaborators on video chat if schedules allow
  • May-June 2024: fieldwork in Spain for about 2 weeks; approximate dates are May 18-June 2 and can be adjusted slightly to fit availability and flight schedules
  • Fall Semester 2024: student research using field data collected in summer (for those students who haven’t already conducted related research with me)
  • Spring Semester 2025: student research using field data collected in summer (optional) and presentation of results


To Apply:

  1. Attend one of two information sessions to learn about the project and expectations. Both sessions will be held in the Geosciences conference room (Lapham 380)
    1. Wednesday January 24, 12:30-1:30
    2. Thursday January 25, 12:30-1:30
    3. If you cannot attend either session, email me to arrange a meeting time.
  2. Submit an application via email (Deadline January 31, 2024) that includes the following:
    1. Statement explaining why you are interested in the program. What do you hope to gain?
    2. Statement explaining what you can bring to the research team. What skills or attributes do you have that would make you a good team member?
    3. Statements regarding your experience in each of the following categories (if no experience yet, that is ok, just say “none yet” for that category)
      • Working in a team
      • Structural geology
      • Field geology
      • Lab work in geology
      • Research
      • Spanish language
    4. Unofficial transcript (if you cannot obtain one because there is a hold on your record, email me for assistance)
    5. Name of 1-2 geosciences faculty member who can write a reference letter on your behalf (good idea to ask them first). They don’t need to send the letter with your application, but I will request it from them later.

Please email me or stop by my office with any questions.  I’m looking forward to working with some more great UWM students on this project!