[ES_JOBS_NET] PhD opportunities University of Chicago Geochemistry/Cosmochemistry

Erika Marín-Spiotta marinspiotta at wisc.edu
Mon Dec 16 13:53:10 MST 2013

*PhD in Geochemistry/Cosmochemistry starting in Autumn 2014 at the
University of Chicago*

PhD opportunities in geochemistry and cosmochemistry are available for fall
2014 at the Origins Lab, University of Chicago (*http://originslab.org
<http://originslab.org/>*). Examples of research projects are listed below:

Ÿ *Isotopic similarities and differences between Earth and Moon*. The Moon
is thought to have formed by a giant impact between the protoEarth and a
Mars-size impactor named Theia. Modeling predicts that most of the material
that formed the Moon came from the impactor, so the Moon may be chemically
and isotopically different from the Earth. High-precision isotopic
measurements of refractory and volatile elements will be conducted in lunar
samples from the Apollo missions in order to test scenarios of the
formation of the Moon.

 Ÿ *Redox state of the Earth*. The redox state of Earth’s mantle influences
the speciation of gases emanating from volcanoes but first order questions
relevant to Earth’s redox evolution are poorly constrained. Did the redox
state of Earth’s mantle remain constant through time? How does subduction
affect the redox budget of Earth’s mantle? To answer these questions, one
has to develop new redox proxies. Iron isotopes are fractionated between
ferric and ferrous iron, so by measuring the iron isotopic composition of
mantle-derived rocks, one should be able to shed new light on the redox
conditions during mantle melting. This work will involve high precision
iron isotope measurements by mass spectrometry and calibration of iron
isotope fractionation in magmatic systems by synchrotron nuclear resonant
inelastic x-ray scattering spectroscopy.

 *Nuclear anomalies in meteorites*. Meteorites and planets show widespread
isotopic anomalies of nucleosynthetic origin for many elements. In
particular, elements in the iron mass region (e.g., Ca, Ti, and Cr) show
excesses in the most neutron-rich isotopes that can be unambiguously tied
to supernova nucleosynthesis. The source of some of these anomalies has
been identified (e.g., nanospinel grains rich in chromium-54) but many
uncertainties remain as to the exact stellar source and nature of these
grains. Do they come from core-collapse or type Ia supernovae? Is there a
unique carrier for calcium and titanium anomalies? Why are they
heterogeneously distributed at a bulk planetary scale? This research will
involve isolation of the carriers of isotopic anomalies from meteorites, in
situ detection of anomalous grains by mass spectrometry, and mineralogical

Numerous opportunities are available, besides the three listed above, to
study the formation of the solar system, environments of the early Earth,
and modern geochemical processes. Students are encouraged to come with
their own ideas to define a potential PhD project that demonstrates their
curiosity and aspirations. A solid background in basic sciences is required.

 Chicago is a vibrant city spread along scenic Lake Michigan with numerous
recreational, cultural and sporting activities. The University of Chicago
is a premier research and teaching institution (ranked #5 in the US News
National University rankings and #9 in the 2013 Shanghai academic ranking
of world universities) that has a long tradition of training outstanding
scientists (89 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the University of

 The application deadline for Autumn 2014 entry to the graduate
program is *January
13, 2014. To apply online please visit *
Opportunities also exist for undergraduate students who are interested in
doing a summer internship at the University of Chicago. If you have any
questions, feel free to email Prof. Nicolas Dauphas at *dauphas at uchicago.edu
<dauphas at uchicago.edu>*
Origins Laboratory  <http://www.originslab.org>
Department of the Geophysical Sciences and Enrico Fermi Institute
The University of Chicago
5734 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637, USA
dauphas at uchicago.edu - 773/702-2930 (office) 312-504-2139 (cell)
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