Saturday, August 9, 2008

Question from a reader: Americans abroad?

I have another question from a reader, from the comments on another post:

Along the lines of you have any for a recent graduate looking for graduate schools and only finding schools in countries other than the U.S? I am interested in structural geology and tectonics and have a particular interest in the effect of past glaciers on pre-existing faults; more specifically how isostatic adjustment affects rates of faulting. I have found several researchers in Canada and was wondering if you knew anything in particular about Canadian graduate schools and/or funding?

One of my senior thesis students this year is going to grad school in Canada next year, for similar reasons: the best program for her interests was in Canada. I don't know the specifics of her funding, although I know she does have support lined up.

The nature of graduate programs varies between countries, but I've gotten the impression that the Canadian system is similar to universities in the US.

If you've got very specific research interests and have questions about any grad school (in the US or outside the US), I would suggest contacting the person with whom you want to work, and asking him or her*. They might not know (especially details about foreign student visas), but they might be able to direct you to someone who can answer the question. You also might find information on the university's web site. (For instance, I found this information by googling "university british columbia foreign student.)

*It's worth considering Female Science Professor's comments about e-mails from prospective grad students. If you've thought about your research interests, talk about them.

Any comments from readers? Advantages/disadvantages to doing a PhD in another country?


Kareina said...

I am under the impression that Canadian universities are very similar to US ones, but other countries can be very different indeed. I was quite surprised when I enrolled in a PhD program in Australia to discover that I would not be taking *any* classes, that my success or failure in this project would be entirely dependant on the quality of the research I did and my ability to write up my results.
It also surprised me to discover that this country does not have "qualifying exams" for their PhD students. This is good news for us in that we can focus on our research rather than studying for "quals", but it also means that we don't put much (any?) energy into reviewing those fields of geology which don't related directly to what we are studying.

Chuck said...

University of Copenhagen is generally on the lookout for students doing Greenland mapping in conjunction with the greenland geol survey- might be looking at them and seeing what papers they've done.

Frederic Herman in Zurich has done a lot of geophysical modeling/ thermochronology on the interaction of NZ tectonics and glaciation. He's at ETH (Zurich).

If you're into numerical modelling instead of field work, there may be something going on in Kurt Lambeck's group at ANU- approach Paul Tregoning to see what projects are available.

And there are probably groups in NZ that look at that sort of thing in the field, but I can't give you any names.

Does that help?

small fuzzy mammal said...

I am not against going outside of the country, but it is possible that your reader may not be looking hard enough here in the US. What researchers are currently publishing and what they have on their website may not be an accurate reflection of their current research or current collaborations (such is the difficulty in finding someone to go graduate work).

At the University of Maine, for example, there is quite a lot of collaboration between the Climate Change center and the Geodynamics, Crustal Studies research group. There isn't a defined project that exists, but there is room for flexibility....

Anne Jefferson said...

It sounds like your writer is looking for a tectonic geomorphologist, and those can be found in the U.S. Andrew Meigs (Oregon State) and James Spotila (Virginia Tech) haven't worked on exactly what is described, but they do work on active/recent tectonics and have both done work in Alaska on glacial erosion. I imagine that even if someone has not worked on a particular topic, with prompting from a motivated graduate student, they might be more than willing to try something somewhat new.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your help. After reading the comment from Anne, I realize that my searches were definitely too specific, which explains why I was starting to feel disheartened by the whole process. So, thank you Anne for your lead pertaining to tectonic geomorphology, in all honesty, I had not realized there was a specific subfield. My search continues now in a much more enlightened and positive form.