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Tennessee GEOPATHS


Application review will start on September 19

Get hands on experience with undergraduate research opportunities in geology and physical geography. Learn more about our faculty mentor-led research projects here:

Group Activities

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is a residential education center within the national park. GEOPATHS students will participate in an immersive, three-day retreat at the institute, where they will be introduced to a variety of geoscience disciplines in a framework of experiential learning and exploration. The Tremont Experience will be held November 9-11, 2018. Applications are due October 16, 2018.

From biodiversity hotspots, to complex geologic structures, to important fossil localities, to hydroelectric dams, Tennessee provides a diverse selection of locations that highlight processes and problems in the geosciences. Explore examples with faculty mentors and guides from the University of Tennessee and participating community colleges.


Interesting in pursuing the geology or physical geography as a career? Come meet the scientists and explore the facilities that UT has to offer. Learn about available research internships (examples listed below) and other educational opportunities from faculty mentors.

Selected GEOPATHS Research Internships

Understanding function in extinct animals can provide important insights into behavior and life strategies. In this project, we will simulate bite marks and measure bite forces from Deinonychus(medium sized predatory dinosaurs) and phytosaurs (very, very distant relatives of alligators and crocodiles) using a variety of modern bones, tooth casts, and a mechanical loading frame.

An external model of a 350 million year old fossil called a blastoid in a computational flow model.

The Sumrall lab is actively involved in understanding the biology and evolutionary history of Paleozoic Echinoderms (relatives of starfish and sand dollars).  We are looking for students to help digitally reconstruct models of the interior and exterior structures of fossils using a variety of techniques that involve X-ray computed tomography, serial sectioning, CAD model generation and 3-D printing.  Skills gained in this research are easily applicable to a number of geological applications.

Sea urchins are known to leave sunburst-shaped traces on bone surfaces, but this process has not been explored in detail. We will be exposing bone samples to several different species of modern sea urchins, and observing the conditions of trace formation and variations in ensuing trace appearances.

Geoscientists are often involved in monitoring water quality and helping design programs to clean up waters that have been contaminated by industrial waste, sewage or agricultural activities. Recent research projects include studying organic contaminants in groundwater at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation and studying the impact of dairy cow manure on water quality at the UT Dairy Farm.

The sediments that accumulate year by year in natural lakes in Tennessee and across the globe provide evidence of changes in Earth’s environments over centuries and millennia.  Some sediment records extend back to the last glacial period, or even beyond! By studying sediment composition, charcoal fragments, pollen grains and other microfossils, and geochemical and isotopic signatures in sediments we can reconstruct past changes in climate, vegetation, fires, and human activity.  I am looking for students who would like to participate in research in my lab examining sediment cores to help understand past shifts in climate and their impacts on people and biota in the southeastern U.S. and the broader Caribbean region.

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