We have some of the best equipped laboratories in eastern Canada, and also frequently use supercomputers for research.  The department houses one NSERC Canada Research Chair in Climate Dynamics, Dr. Hugo Beltrami.

Research creates opportunity for undergraduate students, and many students will work in university labs alongside their professors – as research technicians, or as honours thesis students.  In recent years, our undergraduate researchers traveled to Spain, Cornwall (England), Ireland, Svalbard (Arctic circle), PEI, BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and California to carry out projects with their faculty supervisors. These students benefit outside their courses from this one-on-one contact with their supervisors, in a cutting edge research setting.  Undergrads interested in getting involved in research should contact prospective supervisors directly, as soon as first year.

Research also creates opportunity for graduate studies at the MSc or PhD level.  At any given time, there are 20 or more graduate students active within the department.  Graduate students have a peer group and take common courses, yet also have the close collaborative relationship with their supervisors that is characteristic of small universities. We offer competitive funding for eligible students.

PhD programs are generally arranged through the Memorial University School of Graduate Studies, where students can be resident at StFX.  Incoming students must have high marks, and must demonstrate research potential.

Our RESEARCH themes

Students interested in getting involved in research should contact prospective supervisors.


Brendan Murphy
Brendan specializes in large-scale orogenic processes, mantle plumes, isotopic systems (especially U-Pb), and other topics within those larger frameworks. He is one of the acknowledged authorities on supercontinents and supercontinent cycles.
Brendan’s Website


Jamie Braid
James studies the evolution of mountain belts in Southern Iberia and other locations worldwide. He is primarily a structural geologist with specific interest in orogenic (mountain building) processes and their relationship to the formation of the supercontinent Pangea.
Jamie’s Website


Hugo Beltrami
Hugo Beltrami is a geophysicist, with research interests in the areas of climate change, paleoclimatology, inverse theory, and in the integration of climate models and paleoclimatological data.
Hugo’s Website

Andrew MacDougall
Andrew’s interests include carbon-cycle feedbacks to climate change and development of Earth system models. Much of Andrew’s recent work has focused on projecting how much carbon will be released from high-latitude soils as permafrost thaws. He has also recently focused on quantifying the uncertainty in the carbon budgets compatible with the Paris Agreement targets. In the near future Andrew is planning to develop new Earth system models components.
Andrew’s Website


Lisa Kellman
Lisa is Chair of the Earth Sciences Department. Her primary interests centre upon the dynamics of biogeochemical processes controlling the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in soil and aquatic environments, and how these have been altered by changes associated with global climate and land use. Current research activities can be view at her website.
Lisa’s Website


Alan Anderson
Alan investigates the important role of aqueous fluids in magmatism, metamorphism, and the formation ore deposits. His current research examines how hydrous silicate melts and aqueous fluids transport and deposit metals. His students are engaged in field and geochemical studies of giant ore deposits as well as direct spectroscopic investigations of experimental melt-fluid systems under high pressures and temperatures.
Alan’s Website


Mike Melchin
Mike is a paleontologist interested in global biodiversity and extinction patterns of graptolites through the Ordovician and Silurian periods and their relationship to environmental change, including mss extinction events. He works on evolutionary relationships, biostratigraphy and isotopic problems, using samples from around the world, as well as application of new methods of analysis of paleontological data.
Mike’s Website


Dave Risk
Dave’s interests lie in the measurement of gas emission from soils, isotope tracers, and sensor techniques. Some of this expertise is applied to natural ecosystems, and he has projects both in the Arctic and Antarctic, focused on soil microbial dynamics in cold ecosystems. The other portion of his research relates to the energy industry, for which he develops sensor techniques to detect fugitive emissions (gas leaks) in energy developments.
FluxLab’s Website

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Department of EARTH SCIENCES.

Phone: (902) 867-5109
Fax: (902) 867-2414
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5009 Chapel Square
Physical Sciences Centre, Room 2052
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Canada, B2G 2W5