Skip to content Skip to navigation

Research Opportunities


Historical Geobiology Lab research agenda: The pattern of early animal evolution is investigated through the fossil and molecular records, while organismal responses to environmental change are studied along natural environmental gradients and in lab experiments. Geochemical proxy records of ancient ocean conditions are studied in both detailed outcrop/core-based studies and in database analyses. Results of these proxy records are used to calibrate Earth system models.  Together, these feed into an ecophysiological framework (such as the Metabolic Index) to mechanistically test hypotheses of coupled environmental-biotic evolution. While this is the overall agenda of the lab, individual lab members generally focus on gaining expertise in individual areas during undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral research. 

The School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University is an intellectually exciting place to investigate questions regarding environmental change and biotic responses. Diversity of all types is valued and respected both in the School and in our Lab.

Undergraduate: research and/or work opportunities for Stanford University students are available both in geology/geochemistry/paleontology and in marine physiology questions related to modern marine global change. Paid undergraduate assistantships are available for students to investigate how animals respond to changing oxygen/temperature conditions (when we can have undergrads in labs again...).  

Graduate: The Lab may be hoping to recruit at a graduate student during the 2021/2022 application cycle, although several students were admitted last cycle and funding for students without external fellowships will be tight. Projects can involve a mixture of geological and/or biological fieldwork, geochemistry, and physiology--although note some of the best thesis projects are proposed and developed by the student! We are particularly interested in students with data science and/or modeling expertise. Please contact Dr. Sperling to discuss possibilities. Prospective students are encouraged to apply to the NSF Graduate Student Fellowship (GRFP) if eligible.

Postdoctoral: Interested postdoctoral scholars should contact Dr. Sperling to discuss possible research areas of mutual interest and funding opportunities. Stanford has a postdoctoral scholarship program for exceptional scholars, with a substantial salary and funds for independent research; applications are due Oct. 15th, with more information here. The School of Earth Sciences also has a postdoctoral fellowship program (also with excellent support!)--this fellowship supports outstanding scholars in the fields of Earth, energy, and environmental sciences whose research and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students will contribute to diversity, equity, inclusion and scientific excellence within the school. Applications will be considered starting Dec. 1st; more details here.

Other possible sources of funding could include the NSF Earth Sciences and Ocean Sciences postdoctoral fellowships, and the Agouron Geobiology fellowship (link). Scholars from Swedish Universities are encouraged to apply for the Stanford Wallenberg Fellowship (link). Members of underrepresented groups in STEM fields are encouraged to apply for the California Alliance postdoctoral fellowship (link). PI Sperling is also happy to discuss any other potential alternatives for funding.

SLAC: Synchrotron-based studies are emerging as a powerful tool in geochemistry and paleontology, and although this has not been a traditional tool of the Historical Geobiology Lab, we are excited to explore opportunities based at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). Please contact PI Sperling for more information.