College Research Enterprise

The College of Geosciences is home to eleven research clusters that focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative research aimed at addressing global issues that affect our everyday lives. Researchers and collaborators from Texas A&M include the College of Agriculture, College of Architecture, College of Engineering, and Texas A&M Galveston, among others.

College of Geosciences Centers, Institutes, and Laboratories

The College of Geosciences consists of nine Board of Regent or University President approved facilities and three additional College level laboratories that provide a conduit by which a critical mass of intellectual capability, disciplinary expertise, financial resources and physical assets can be brought together to achieve the educational and research mission of the College:

Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems

Director: Mukul Bhatia

The Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems integrates geosciences, engineering and other disciplines to collaborate with industry and others to advance research and education in petroleum students.

Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment

Director: Sarah Brooks

The overall objective of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment (CACE) is to integrate research regarding the formation, transport, impact, and mitigation of air pollution with studies of the mechanisms by which the scientific results can best inform sound environmental policy.

Center for Geospatial Sciences, Applications and Technology “GeoSAT”

Director: Michael Bishop

The objective of GeoSAT is to engage faculty and students in multidisciplinary collaborations that advance geospatial knowledge and provide practical solutions toward the development and use of geospatial technology innovations in partnership with government and industry to foster economic development. The Center strives to foster excellence in geospatial research, education, and outreach activities by establishing campus-wide cyber and social infrastructures that support the University’s geospatial enterprise to expand, facilitate, dialog and collaborate among faculty and students, and to foster innovative development and use of geospatial technologies. It endeavors to help Texas A&M partner with government and industry to create innovative geospatial technology and information solutions to foster economic development and to elevate Texas A&M University as a focal point for geospatial technology solutions within the state and nation.

Center For Tectonophysics

Director: Fred Chester

The Center for Tectonophysics is an interdisciplinary research group initiated in 1967 for dual purposes: to undertake basic and applied research of both natural and man-induced rock deformation processes and the broad range of geologic structures formed, and to provide research support, training, and mentoring of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows pursuing advanced studies in the area of Tectonophysics.

Geochemical and Environmental Research Group “GERG”

Director: Tony Knap

GERG is organized as three interrelated groups that provide field acquisition, analyses, and interpretation of data across several interlocking themes in environmental sciences, ocean sciences, and resource geosciences. Staff and partners include geologists, inorganic and organic geochemists, analytical and contaminant chemists, biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanographers, biologists, ecologists, and toxicologists.

International Laboratory for High Resolution Earth System Prediction iHESP

Director: Ping Chang

Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (QNLM), Texas A&M University (TAMU), and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are collaborating to establish iHESP. This international collaboration has the potential to yield enormous social, economic, and environmental benefits, making it an extremely valuable effort for policymakers and stakeholders. The new laboratory will play a fundamental role in moving Earth System science and prediction forward by combining the expertise of these three renowned research institutions to pursue transformational efforts in the development of high resolution Earth System models.

International Ocean Discovery Program

Director: Brad Clement

The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is an international research collaboration that coordinates seagoing expeditions to study the history of the Earth recorded in sediments and rocks beneath the ocean floor. The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) operates the scientific drillship JOIDES Resolution on behalf of the National Science Foundation.

Office of the State Climatologist

Director: John Nielsen Gammon

The Office of the State Climatologist strives to provide the state of Texas with accurate climate information and critical expertise in the field of climatology. In addition, this office hopes to play a significant role in the education and understanding of the climate, its elements, and its impact on Texas.

Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility

Director: Brendan Roark

Established on the TAMU campus in College Station in 2009, the Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility (SIGF) is designed to provide accessible, reliable and high-quality stable isotope measurements and training for faculty, staff and students within the College of Geosciences and the Texas A&M community. It was also created as a facility where state-of-the-art methodologies and technological developments in stable isotopes could be applied to important societal problems related to energy, ecology, Earth history, and the environment.

Texas Center for Climate Studies

Director: John Nielsen Gammon

The mission of the Texas Center for Climate Studies (TCCS) is to initiate, encourage, and support climate-related programs in research, education, service, and outreach, particularly as they relate to improving the quality of life and economic health of residents of the State of Texas. The Center advances understanding of why and how the climate is changing, and what those changes will mean for the State of Texas. It promotes translational research that takes what we learn from climate models and puts it into the hands of those who need it. Finally, TCCS takes an active role in communicating information about climate change and its potential impacts to the public.

Texas Sea Grant

Director: Pamela Plotkin

Texas Sea Grant is part of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 university-based programs in coastal and Great Lakes states, Puerto Rico and Guam. Texas Sea Grant’s competitive research grant program draws on the expertise of the state’s top scientists. At the same time, its coastal extension agents and specialists working in the field translate and communicate research results to stakeholders in ways that meet the real-world needs of Texans.

Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility (SIGF)

Director: Brenden Roark

The Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility at Texas A&M University was established to provide the highest quality light element isotopic measurements for the advancement of the research of faculty, staff, and students at TAMU and within the broader scientific community. The facility provides a training resource on instruments and preparation equipment for students and researchers within the College of Geosciences. With up-to-date isotope technologies and an experienced staff, SIGF is continually striving to make TAMU a national leader for stable isotopic research.

Ken Williams '45 Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory

Director: Franco Marcantonio

The R. Ken Williams '45 Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory allows College of Geosciences faculty and students to perform interdisciplinary research in marine geology, global tectonics, geochronology, and environmental and climate change issues.

Houston LMA Network

Director: Tim Logan

The Houston Lightning Mapping Array (HLMA) network provides the 3-D behavior of lightning in the Houston area. The HLMA makes regular observations of the time, latitude, longitude, height, and power of each lightning point during a thunderstorm event that passes within the range of detection of the network.

Center Reviews: A five year review is required per university policy for all Board of Regent approved centers required. See for more information.

The College of Geoscience Policy provides the College review process, criteria, and review schedule.

Selected Strategic Research Initiatives

  • Unconventional Resources: Mukul Bhatia
  • Ocean Observing/Smart Gulf: Tony Knap/Steve DiMarco
  • Water Security: Wendy Jepson
  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality: Sarah Brooks
  • VA Collaboration for State of Texas: Stacy Lyle
  • Convergent Science Research – Gulf of Mexico Networks: Jack Baldauf
  • Climate Modeling – Ping Chang
  • Rock Deformation and Earthquakes – Judy Chester
  • Geospatial and Remote Sensing – Michael Bishop, Dan Goldberg

Selected College International Initiatives

The College of Geosciences values the widespread participation of all of our students in our internationally-recognized research programs.

  • Costa Rica – Solti's Center: TAMU Center, Field Station, Mapping, Landforms, Culture
  • University of Haifa, Israel: Texas A&M – University of Haifa Mediterranean Observatory, Dual Degree Program.
  • Yucatan Initiative, Mexico: Academic/Research collaborations
  • Ocean University of China Partnership, China – Dual degree program, Environmental Resilience Academic Program
  • iHESP – TAMU, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Qingdao National Marine Laboratory, China – Earth System climate modeling

Undergraduate Research

The Texas A&M Quality Enhancement Plan ( is a key component of our reaffirmation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Undergraduate research is integral to the College of Geosciences QEP, Aggies Commit to Communicate (C2C), which aims to advance excellence in our College by providing students with increased and effortful opportunities to think, write, and speak about the subject matter and skills they are acquiring. Research experiences build individual curiosity and group collaboration skills, offer students opportunities to reflect on what they have learned and wish to continue to learn.

Specific Student Learning Outcomes associated with undergraduate research include (1) demonstrate effective writing and communication skills; (2) exhibit the skills necessary to acquire, organize, reorganize and interpret new knowledge; (3) show proficiency in current technologies and the ability to adapt to emerging technologies; (4) demonstrate intellectual curiosity; (5) work with others to support a shared purpose or goal; (6) synthesize knowledge across courses and other experiences.

Undergraduate research is well represented in terms of number of students participating. 815 students participated in undergraduate research between September 2012 and December 2015 as measured by enrollment in 291 and 491 hours, supervised by advanced graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, research scientists, or faculty. We have observed an upward trend: 128 undergraduates were enrolled in research hours in 2012, while 287 were enrolled in research hours in 2015. Undergraduates have worked in laboratories, where the perform tasks with graduate students and post-doctoral researchers; or they may work individually with faculty in proof-of-concept work, data collection, sample preparation, or analysis.

All students conducting research in the field or in the lab must be registered in 291 or 491 hours. A zero-credit-hour option allows students to be registered for research without incurring additional charges for tuition or fees. Individual departments have specific protocols for creating 291 or 491 sections for instructors; typically a brief outline of roles and responsibilities is required. We encourage faculty to integrate research with undergraduate students through the development of research teams that may include post-doctoral scholars and advanced graduate students. The College supports undergraduate travel to present research at regional and national conferences.

Undergraduate research in 291 and 491 hours also helps students achieve points for the Medallion Scholars program, which we unveiled in spring 2015. Each time a specific milestone (along their Pathway) is met in high impact learning experiences, students will earn points towards their medallion.

Graduate Research

Graduate research is an integral part of the research enterprise in the College of Geosciences. With a population of roughly 370 graduate students, and a degree production rate averaging 50 MS and 25 PhD degrees per year in thesis-based programs, it is clear that the role of graduate students in research cannot be underestimated. The College houses thesis-based graduate degree programs in all of our departments as well as two interdisciplinary degree programs.

The learning objectives for these graduate research experiences are the same as outlined above, and research hours are tracked and awarded as well. For many students, particularly senior doctoral students, research hours may make up the entirety of their semester enrollment.

All students conducting research in the field or in the lab should be registered in 691 hours for research credit. This is a variable unit course available between 1 and 9 units that does count toward a student’s degree plan. Individual departments have specific protocols for creating 691 sections for instructors; often a brief outline of roles and responsibilities is required. 691 hours need not be supervised by a graduate student’s major professor, but should be supervised by the faculty member most directly overseeing the research effort. We encourage faculty to work to develop research teams that may include post-doctoral scholars and advanced undergraduate students.

The College encourages external support for graduate students and fees as they pursue research. External agency support and more rarely department or college funds are set up for students in a GAR (Graduate Assistant Researcher) role. This does not necessarily include tuition, fees or insurance support, but it certainly may if funds are available. The exact stipend amounts and coverage terms are variable and governed by departmental guidelines and funding constraints. The College also strongly encourages and partially supports graduate travel to present research at regional and national conferences.

Typically if graduate support is available through external funds, it is expected that these funds be used first to cover conference presentations and research travel. However, if those funds are limited or unavailable, most departments and the college have limited funds that can help defray costs for these activities. Departmental Graduate Directors are typically the best point of contact for information on resource availability for research travel support, and professional development or other high impact scholarly activities related to graduate student education.

Council of Principal Investigators

Members of the Council are elected representatives of the Principal Investigators from various units of the Texas A&M University research community. As such, it is the responsibility of Council Members to maintain an effective dialogue with their constituents. Various guests may be invited to a meeting(s), at the discretion of the CPI Chair, when a meeting topic or issue is discussed that intersects with the purview of an administrative office. The list of invited guests changes every year at the discretion of the CPI Chair. Individual faculty are encourage to contact the college CPI representatives to share concerns or issues so the college representative can present these issues to the CPI for discussion.

CPI College Representatives: Brendan Roark (2018-2021), Jessica Fitzsimmons (2019-2022), Ethan Grossman (2019-2020)

University Research Council

The University Research Council (URC) provides advice and assistance to the Vice President for Research on the development of research, research planning, and research policy. The URC reports to the Vice President for Research.

The URC is an advisory body that may consider any matter of policy and procedures regarding University research. The Council may make recommendations on the manner by which research is initiated and conducted in support of the primary teaching function of the University.

Members include the research deans from each college and Division of Research senior administrators.

College Representative: Jack Baldauf