Prospective Students

Students in the Geophysics graduate program study Earth and other planets to advance our fundamental understanding their origin, composition, and evolution, and explore the implications for life, for the environment, and for society.

The graduate program provides a broad education in the fundamentals of geophysics, alongside research and coursework spanning multiple specializations. Our flexible curriculum and multidisciplinary group allows us to welcome graduate students from a diverse range of backgrounds in science and engineering, resulting in graduates being well prepared for future careers in academia, industry, or public service.

Our multidisciplinary program offers graduate students a unique hands-on, collaborative learning environment. In addition to our core academic curriculum, we emphasize linking observational techniques and the collection of novel datasets for testing new theoretical and computational approaches. GP students participate extensively in field experiments, instrument development, laboratory investigations, and shipboard expeditions.

Is this graduate program for you?

You can either complete a PhD or Masters degree, here are some thoughts on which is best for you, and why you should choose Scripps.

Potential Advisors and Projects for Fall 2020 Admission

The following faculty and research scientists are interested in seeking new students for Fall 2021 intake.  If you wish to find out more about their research, please email them individually.  If you are are not sure what specific area of research you wish to pursue, or have any questions, please email the admissions coordinators, Ross Parnell-Turner and Catherine Constable at for help and guidance.

Adrian Borsa
Geodesy and crustal deformation. Current projects include investigations of Earth surface deformation due to hydrological and other loading, groundwater flux, permafrost freeze/thaw, past and current ice mass changes, and mantle flow. Collaborations with other groups at UCSD (School of Global Policy and Strategy, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, San Diego Supercomputer Center) support socioeconomic/policy applications and cyberinfrastructure development relevant to this research.

Yehuda Bock
Geodesy, crustal deformation, data science, natural hazards. Projects include integration of GNSS and InSAR for detecting transient deformation across the Western U.S. plate boundaries; solid earth science time series analysis and mining of large data sets for geodesy, hydrology and meteorology; monitoring the impact of earthquake strong motions on large engineered structures using GNSS, lidar and drone imagery; real-time GNSS and seismic (seismogeodetic) monitoring for earthquake and tsunami warnings.

Catherine Constable
Geomagnetism. Possible projects include modeling paleosecular variation and linking paleomagnetic records of geomagnetic excursions and reversals to numerical dynamo simulations. Website:

Steven Constable
Marine electromagnetic methods.  Projects include the study of offshore groundwater, marine gas hydrate, tectonic plate boundaries, and pretty well any other geological feature found offshore.  We collect and interpret our own field data, but the lab is also interested in developing algorithms and software needed for data processing and modeling/inversion of EM data.

Yuri Fialko
Geodesy and tectonics. Observations and modeling of crustal deformation due to active faults and magmatism, rock mechanics, earthquake physics. Current projects include studies of sub-surface geometry of the Southern San Andreas Fault using space geodetic and seismic data. Website:

Helen Amanda Fricker
Glaciology and remote sensing. Satellite radar and laser altimetry (especially ICESat-2) over ice shelves and outlet glaciers to understand ice loss processes & incorporation into ice-sheet models.
Websites: and

Alice Gabriel (joining July 2020)
Computational and theoretical seismology. Projects are available which use high-performance computing and physics-based modeling constrained by a multitude of observations. Application areas range from the seismic cycle in subduction zones and tsunami genesis, to strong ground motion scenarios in complicated settings, to induced seismicity. Projects may involve utilising new methods in terms of numerical discretisation, uncertainty quantification, imaging and monitoring.

Gabi Laske
Seismic tomography using surface wave data. Possible projects include the investigation of crustal structure and seismic anisotropy across North America and a new deployment of ocean bottom seismometers in the North Pacific to explore the evolution of a maturing oceanic plate.

Dave May (joining July 2020)
Computational geophysics. Projects are available which involve the development and deployment of modern numerical methods to conduct physics-based simulations relevant for the following application areas: deformation of the lithosphere; wave phenomena in the Earth; dynamics of ice sheets and landscape evolution. The projects are inter-disciplinary, spanning Earth science, applied mathematics and computer science. Project specifics will be tailored to suit individuals previous experience / skills and their current / future interests.

Mattias Morzfeld (Joining January 2020)
Data assimilation and theoretical geophysics. The research projects are interdisciplinary and revolve around creating new numerical methods (Markov chain Monte Carlo or optimization) and their application across disciplines in geophysics.

Ross Parnell-Turner
Marine geophysics. Possible projects will investigate oceanic crustal formation, faulting and magmatism using earthquake seismology and underwater mapping with robots.

Anne Pommier
Earth and planetary interiors. Different projects are available and will combine high-pressure and high-temperature experiments on Earth and planetary materials with geophysical observations, in order to probe the structure and dynamics of planetary interiors. The student will also have opportunities to participate in experiments on melts at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Lab (Chicago), and in an outreach program for K-12 teachers and students in the San Diego Unified School District.

David Sandwell
Research Interests: Geodynamics, global marine gravity, crustal motion modeling, space geodesy.
Lab web site:

Peter Shearer
Earthquake seismology. Possible projects include analysis of upper-mantle discontinuity structure and its implications for composition and dynamics, studying the possible time dependence of seismic parameters on Hawaii related to volcanic and tectonic activity, and analysis of P-wave spectra in southern California to better understand the origin of variations in high-frequency seismic radiation.

Dave Stegman
Geodynamics. Projects are available on topics related to the dynamics of planetary interiors and lithospheres using numerical models, high performance computing, and scientific visualization. Focus of ongoing research includes mantle plumes in Earth and Venus, magnetic field generation in basal magma oceans, and multi-scale, multi-physics geodynamic models of subduction zones.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the PhD program listed here, a major in physics, mathematics, or earth sciences, is recommended.

There are various application fee waiver programs offered by the UC San Diego Graduate Division. Please inquire with for possible fee waiver options, and see here for some further details.

Applications for Fall 2020 entry are closed.  Please check back again in October 2020 for details on how to apply for Fall 2021 entry.  Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please email

Program of Study

Details of the program of study, and course requirements can be found here.

Financial Support

All PhD applicants are considered for financial support. More information about funding can be found here

Additional Information

A list of current GP graduate students can be found here.

For additional information, the graduate student handbooks can be found here