Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences


Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Please keep an eye on this page for specific opportunities.

Note: If you are interested in research opportunities with other faculty, please contact them directly…most faculty will create and tailor a research project to your particular interests.

Specific Opportunities

Prof. Annette Engel

Undergraduate student workers

Interest in geology, chemistry, microbiology, or relevant field is required.

As many as three positions are available for undergraduate students interested in working in Dr. Engel's geochemistry laboratory, gaining experience in field and laboratory methods, and in conducting independent research. Expectations are that students work 10-20 hours per week, that they attend group meetings, and work towards presenting their research findings at conferences (university, regional, and national). Some positions require good computer skills and other positions will involve field work, such as cave exploration.

Prof. Michael McKinney

Title: Freshwater mussels and human impacts

Project: Freshwater mussels are excellent indicators of human impacts such as water pollution. This project involves studying the effects of coal mining and urban sprawl on living mussels. Fieldwork and lab work are required. This includes species identification and installation of silos containing live mussels.

Status: Project is available for 3 hours of Geology 493 credit (± senior thesis)

Expectations: 6-10 hours per week that includes training, independent work; presentation of results at professional meeting; potential participation in Spring EUREKA competition.

Experience: Junior or Senior in Geology or Environmental Studies

Contact: Michael McKinney (mmckinne@utk.edu) EPS room 317a


Title: Land snails and human impacts

Project: Land snails are a very understudied group of organisms. But they are excellent indicators of human impacts, especially land development. This project involves collecting and identifying land snails in different habitats ranging from urban to natural areas. Fieldwork and some lab work are required. Status: Project is available for 3 hours of Geology 493 credit (± senior thesis)

Expectations: 6-10 hours per week that includes training, independent work; presentation of results at professional meeting; potential participation in Spring EUREKA competition.

Experience: Junior or Senior in Geology or Environmental Studies

Contact: Michael McKinney (mmckinne@utk.edu) EPS room 317a

Prof. Linda Kah

Title: Sulfur-isotope composition of ancient carbonate rocks

Project: Through geologic time, the oxygenation state of the Earth’s surface environments has been recorded in the sulfur isotopic composition of marine carbonate rocks. In recent years, we have come to appreciate how Earth oxygenation has fundamentally changed oceanic chemistry. This project will train a student in the extraction of trace sulfate from marine carbonate rocks, and the student will interpret the results of sulfur isotopic analyses within the scope of changing oceanic chemistry.

Status: Project is available for 3 hours of Geology 493 credit (± senior thesis)

Expectations and Rewards: 6-10 hours per week that includes training, independent work, and bi-monthly group meetings; presentation of results at professional meeting

Experience: Junior or Senior in Geology or Environmental Studies; lab experience preferred, but not required; needs attention to detail.

Contact: Linda Kah (lckah@utk.edu; EPS room 311)


Undergraduate Research Achievements

Undergraduate researchers in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences often participate in the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA), an annual event that showcases research and creative activities by currently enrolled undergraduate students in collaboration with a University of Tennessee, Knoxville faculty mentor. Congratulations to everyone who received awards in the 2015 EURēCA event, especially these UT EPS students and their faculty mentors:

  • Benjamin Adams, "Impact of Temporal Variations of Hydrology on Groundwater Geochemistry." Honorable Mention, Physical Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty mentor – Terry Hazen.
  • Chad Melton, "Photometry of Scattered Disk Objects in the Outer Solar System." Honorable Mention, Physical Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty mentor – Joshua Emery.

Paid Internships

ORISE administers many programs that provides paid educational and research experiences and have eligibility requirements that vary from program to program. Students or faculty will need to go to the following link(s) and select the program that interests them. Each program's web page has instructions on eligibility requirements, application submission, and a link to the online application or a printable application. All ORISE programs require applicants to submit the appropriate application and supporting documentation. The program's web page also provides the name and e-mail address of a program specialist who can help answer any questions that students may have concerning eligibility requirements or submitting an application for a particular program. When e-mailing questions to the program specialist the program name should be included in the e-mail. When students choose a program that interests them, they will need to CAREFULLY read the eligibility requirements. Many of the programs administered by ORISE are open only to U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens.

  • ORNL HERE - This web page is for the Higher Education Research Experiences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (HERE). The program has an online application. Deadlines are stated but they are flexible for the HERE program. There are multiple academic levels in the HERE program, i.e., entering freshman, undergraduate, post-BS, a graduate student or a faculty member.
  • DOE SULI – The students will find information about the Department of Energy's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) as well as an electronic application which can complete online. The SULI program is for undergraduates and graduating seniors. At this site students can also find applications for the Community College Institute (CCI) and the Pre-Service Teacher (PST) programs.
  • ORNL NESLS - The Nuclear Engineering Student Laboratory Synthesis (NESLS) program is a cooperative research initiative geared toward students working in physics and nuclear engineering applications. Through one- to three-year summer internships, NESLS offers engineering student on-the-job educational and research opportunities at a multidisciplinary national laboratory.
  • ORISE - This link is the gateway to many of the education and research experiences offered through ORISE. The web page has links for faculty, recent graduates, graduates, and undergraduate students.



 

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