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Prospective Students


I am often seeking undergraduates or graduate students to work in my group.  For graduate students, please apply through UT’s climate system science program. Write our Graduate Coordinator Mr. Philip Guerrero, (512-471 6098) for general questions concerning admission and support in the Department of Geological Sciences, and to check the status of your application.

Write Dr. Yang if you want to work with him and if have questions about academics. Also be sure that any information you want the admissions committee to see is contained within the required parts of your application, (for example in your statement of purpose), otherwise it may not be seen by the admissions committee. You may see the kinds of projects Dr. Yang's group is working on by looking at the Projects and Grants.  For undergraduate research opportunities, please send a CV and something about your interests to liang at jsg dot utexas dot edu.


In regards to the applications procedure, please note "Applicants to our graduate program are expected to have completed a minimum of two college level courses in calculus, physics, and chemistry, with a grade of C or better, as well as courses in geological sciences, including field training appropriate for the subject of interest."

While we have a basic requirement of 2 semesters each of calculus, physics, and chemistry, it does not mean that we can’t recruit and admit a student who does not meet all the above requirements. Once admitted their record would be evaluated, and they would be asked to make up specific undergraduate deficiencies.

This process is to ensure our graduate students will have the best qualifications in their career. Indeed, our students have done very well in industry and academia and we stress both theoretical/analytical/modeling and practical aspects of the geological sciences. This reflects the strength of our program and we are very proud of it.

Research Projects

Understanding and modeling the processes involved in weather, climate, water cycle, and air quality requires a lot of time with computers. Projects would include:

  • Modeling global climate and hydrology with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate System Model (CCSM),
  • Studying regional climate and biosphere-atmosphere interactions with the NCAR mesoscale meteorological models [e.g., Weather, Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model],
  • Improving seasonal snow cover accumulation and melt and hill-slope runoff in the NCAR Community Land Model and in the Noah Land Surface Model,
  • Quantifying uncertainties in land surface modeling and/or climate modeling,
  • Using remotely sensed land data to improve representation of the land surface processes in coupled general circulation models,
  • Estimating regional-scale snow water equivalent from in situ measurements, remote sensing, and land surface modeling with data assimilation
  • Quantitatively assessing feedbacks between the atmosphere and land, ocean, or ice surfaces,
  • Studying the impacts of vegetation dynamics on climate,
  • Forecasting flood and drought potential using remote sensing, GIS, and meteorological modeling,
  • Water sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions, such as in China and the southwestern United States, under climate change, land use change, and water use change,
  • Numerical modeling of droughts in Northern China,
  • Understanding and modeling the direct and indirect effects of climate change on biogenic emissions and air quality, and
  • Human-environment interactions.

Financial Support

There is a wide range of supports available, including Graduate Teaching Assistantship, Graduate Research Assistantship, UT Graduate Fellowship, and federal Graduate Fellowship.

All qualified students are encouraged to officially apply for our graduate program, which is the only way we can consider for funding. If accepted, a graduate student is generally funded for the remainder of their studies (2 to 3 years for a MS and 3-5 or more years for a PhD). The students who are recommended for funding are also encouraged to visit Austin, UT, and our department. If accepted, students will be reimbursed for a portion of the trip expenses.

Although there are Graduate Research Assistantships or Project Assistantships available, these go first to qualified students who have strong programming and numerical modeling skills and who are capable of doing publishable work for my funded research projects. Also, the RA positions will go to students who have taken Physical Climatology (or Hydroclimatology) GEO 387H with me or who have been a teaching assistant (TA) for Dr. Yang's undergraduate course Climate Past, Present and Future GEO 302C, and then to students who will be doing one of them concurrently, and, first to students in the Department of Geological Sciences.

Graduate research assistantships are not offered to students before they arrive here. Dr. Yang will expect to get to know students before agreeing to supervise their theses. Usually this is by their doing GEO 387H or GEO 302C with me. The students who receive research assistantships need to understand that they use the assistantships to do research for their degrees as well as for the projects under my guidance. They are expected to be self-motivated, hard-working and productive.

The Department of Geological Sciences offers a number of guaranteed positions to incoming students. The initial job assignments for the first semester for those who have guaranteed positions are usually TA positions, but it is possible for them to be converted to research assistant or project assistant positions after the students arrive. There are many opportunities for more advanced students to have research assistantships. Students who apply for support may also be considered for a wide variety of university fellowships, no separate application is necessary, although the number of available fellowships is limited.

Currently I have several RA positions available. Please see Projects and Grants for a list of my projects. In particular, my NOAA funded seasonal precipitation project, NASA-funded coastal zone project, and new NASA project entitled "Estimating Regional-Scale Snow Water Equivalent from in situ Measurements, Remote Sensing, and Land Surface Modeling with Data Assimilation". I also have a one-year project "Potential Effects of Global Warming on Hydrology and Water Resources in Saudi Arabia" that can support an RA. However, the NSF project "Mechanisms of regional climate change and impacts on water availability in Texas from the Last Glacial Maximum to present-day" requires an interest in paleoclimatology.

My Philosophy

My philosophy of supporting students is as follows. I wanted to train them to be the best scientists, highly competitive for faculty positions or other national/international lab/industry positions. First, I would provide RA support for them to develop outstanding research skills, and during the process I would encourage them to write for federal fellowships. I will help them apply for these (e.g. brainstorming, writing proposals and/or writing reference letters). If they get the fellowships, it is great. [Four of my past and current students have successfully got federal fellowships, from NSF, NASA, NOAA, and Department of Homeland Security.] If not, I would continue supporting them if we mutually like to work together. You may want to talk to my students and check out their papers at Recent Publications and Recent Presentations.

Please take your time to make a decision. Feel free to ask me if you have more questions. My full contact information is here.