Meet our mentors!



Asiya Badarunnisa Sainudeen (she/her)

2nd year PhD student
Research area: climate dynamics
Advisor: Marcus Lofverstrom

About Me

I'm a second-year Ph.D. student working in the Earth System Dynamics lab led by Dr. Marcus Lofverstrom. I got my BS-MS degree in Earth Sciences from IISER Kolkata, and I worked as an RA at IIT Delhi for one year before joining for my Ph.D. I grew up in the Southwestern part of India, where it rains all year round. I always adored the monsoons and the conversations over tea amidst the rains. The increased frequency of extreme climatic events like floods and landslides (caused by heavy rainfall) changed my perspective about rain. It made me curious about the changing hydroclimate of our warming world. My current research focuses on understanding the ocean-atmosphere processes that drive the South American hydroclimate through the recent past and into the future using state-of-the-art global climate models. Outside work, I love reading books, binge-watching tv shows and movies, biking, and playing board games.




Holly Thomas

2nd year MS Student
Research area: climate dynamics
Advisor: Marcus Lofverstrom

About Me

Hello! I'm Holly Thomas. I'm a second-year master's student working with Marcus Lofverstrom. In my early career, I primarily studied glaciology and paleoclimate. Since then my interests have expanded to include large-scale atmospheric dynamics, specifically those surrounding sudden stratospheric warming events (or, more commonly, 'polar vortex' events). I'm interested in how well global climate models are replicating these events, and what implications model skill has for characterizing the evolution of extreme winter weather as the global climate evolves. In my free time, I like riding my bike, hanging out with plants, and cooking/eating delicious food!




Aubrey Bennett

2nd year PhD student
Research area: planetary geology, seismology, crustal deformation, machine learning
Advisor: Rick Bennett

About Me

I'm Aubrey, a 2nd year graduate student! I am currently working with Rick Bennett (no relation- haha) on a fault model of Southern California. Originally, I'm from South of Atlanta, Georgia and I got my BS at Purdue. I enjoy tap dancing, working out, and spending time outdoors!




Jenna Biegel (she/her)


2nd year MS student

Research area: tectonics
Advisor: Barbara Carrapa & Mihai Ducea

About Me

I am a second year MSc student working with Drs. Barbara Carrapa and Mihai Ducea on the tectonic history of the Catalinas and also investigating the tectonic evolution of the Andes. I spent several years after my undergraduate career working as an environmental consultant and geologist at a Georgia (US)-based consultancy specializing in environmental litigation; I also had the opportunity to spend several months doing field geology through the company's Geology and Mining group. I love to hike, surf, climb, ferment different foods and beverages, and travel in my converted Sprinter Van.

Areas of Specialty

  • Graduate school applications and networking
  • CV, Resume, Cover letter
  • Job and internship applications
  • Career in Industry planning: the Professional Geologist (PG) and Geologist in Training (GIT) exams GSRM in academia and beyond




Emilie Bowman

4th year PhD student
Research area: tectonic/magmatic processes
Advisor: Mihai Ducea

Read more about Emilie

About Me

I am a fourth year PhD student in igneous petrology working with Dr. Mihai Ducea and Dr. Ananya Mallik. I received my BS at University of Texas and my MS at MIT. I study magmatic processes at active plate boundaries, particularly along the Andean subduction margin. I also conduct melting experiments on lower crustal magmatic rocks. Outside of school, I like to read, play music, and travel.

Areas of Specialty

  • Balancing work and play/the student-athlete experience
  • Applying a chemistry background to geosciences
  • Understanding personal research interests and strengths
  • Non-academic job search
  • Graduate school application process
  • Professional poster/talk practice and abstract writing




Lisa Zieman (she/her)

5th year PhD student
Research area: geochemistry, petrology
Advisor: Mauricio Ibañez-Mejia

About Me

I research the chemistry of the solid Earth and evolution of our habitable continental crust. I completed my undergraduate degree in chemistry and geology at St. Lawrence University, NY, where I was a three-season athlete and began my geology research adventures on the ancient cratons of the Canadian tundra. After undergrad, I worked an internship with the US Forest Service and completed my master’s degree at the University of Rochester, NY. Currently for my PhD work, I focus on the petrology of the base of the crust in the Northern Volcanic Zone of the Andes. This involves field work, clean-lab chemistry, and playing with instruments. Other than rocks, I am passionate about running and being outside.




Cassie Hanagan

4th year PhD student
Research area: geophysics, earthquakes
Advisor: Rick Bennett

About Me

I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania, a few miles away from Penn State where I graduated with a BS in Geoscience. I love (almost) all things outdoors, such as running, biking, climbing, etc. This was one of my main motivations to study the landscape I enjoy being in! I study the triggering of aftershock sequences, and other earthquake processes related to deformation we see at Earth's surface. I gravitate toward using geodetic methods, such as GPS and borehole strainmeter analysis, to tackle these problems, but also incorporate geological and seismological information.




Tshering Zangmu Lama Sherpa (she/her)

3rd year PhD student
Research area: tectonics, geochronology
Advisor: Pete DeCelles

About Me

I'm a 3rd year PhD candidate broadly interested in the tectonic history of the Nepalese Himalaya. The focus of my research is using radiometric dating and geochemistry (geochronology, petrochronology and thermochronology) to understand the geologic history of the Himalaya. I'm an international student from Nepal but I spent a considerable amount of time growing up in India as well. After finishing high school, I traveled across the world to start my undergraduate at Union College, a small liberal arts school in Schenectady, NY. I like to hike, camp, cook (especially for friends) and eat different types of cuisine. I can help with applying to graduate schools in the United States, finding and contacting potential advisors, creating schedules to organize work and tips on navigating academic life as a person of color/ international student.




Maya Prabhakar (she/they)

1st year PhD student
Research area: paleoceanography/paleoclimatology, geochemistry
Advisor: Kaustubh Thirumalai

About Me

Growing up, the only geology I saw was glacial debris in Central Park and whatever was in the glass cases in the museums, but I liked it enough to finish my BS at SUNY Buffalo. I spent a lot of time working in an organic stable isotope and biogeochemistry lab as an undergraduate student. My senior year, I started working with my current graduate advisor on Arctic cores, which brought me to my work in the paleoceanography lab here. I primarily use foraminiferal geochemistry to investigate the relationship between the surface ocean and the cryosphere in the Arctic. I also enjoy thinking about taxonomy and the diversity of shells within species. The shift from my geology degree to paleoceanography has brought my field work out to sea, which is pretty cool! In my free time I enjoy making costumes, watching horror movies, and hiking with friends.




Emilia Caylor(she/her)

4th year PhD student
Research area: tectonics, basin analysis, sedimentology, geochronology, thermochronology
Advisor: Barbara Carrapa

About Me

I am a 3rd year PhD candidate studying Mesozoic sedimentary basins in the western US. I attended the University of Houston Downtown for my undergraduate during which time, I participated in two NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) research programs. After graduating I went on to earn a masters degree in geology in 2019 at UA working with Barbara Carrapa. Following my masters, I did an internship with ExxonMobil before returning for a PhD here at UA. I study sedimentary basins to answer big tectonic question about the North American Cordillera using sedimentology, geochronology, and thermochronology applied to basins in California and Wyoming.

Areas of Specialty

  • Field work- whether it’s getting ready for the field or being in the field
  • Interning with ExxonMobil
  • Applying for grad school




Priscilla Martinez(she/her)

1st year PhD student
Research area: basin analysis, climate-tectonics
Advisor: Barbara Carrapa & Pete Decelles

About Me

I study the interactions between local and regional climate and tectonics, along with basin formation and evolution, by integrating both field and laboratory analyses. As an undergraduate student at California State University, Fullerton, I researched the volcanic source and age of tuff beds in the Modelo Formation, Ventura County, California. After graduating, I began a master’s program at California State University, Northridge and studied the composition and transport history of deep-sea volcaniclastic intervals recovered during IODP Expedition 385 in Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California. Currently, I am a 1st year PhD student working alongside Dr. Barbara Carrapa to reconstruct the Miocene Climate Optimum (MCO) continental climate record in the Central Andes. I integrate both geological and geochemical records of climate variability across the MCO to provide insights into the mechanisms driving this prolonged warming event. I am also committed to advocating for equity, accessibility, and justice to be at the center of geoscience research, discourse, and policy through an intersectional approach. In my downtime, I enjoy reading poetry, running, and cooking Salvadoran food with friends and family.