Join us

If you are a prospective group member, making the choice to join a lab is a big decision that can affect your future happiness and career in a lot of ways. For me, hiring a researcher represents a significant commitment of not only funds but also time and energy, including my mentorship and support beyond your time at MSU.

Information about applications for graduate study in Earth and Environmental Sciences at MSU can be found here. Note that the deadline for applications to be considered for MSU university fellowships is December 7th, and general applications to start the following fall semester must be completed by December 31st. The GRE is no longer required or considered in admissions to Earth and Environmental Sciences.

I can also advise students admitted to graduate study in Physics and Astronomy. I am affiliated with the Condensed Matter Physics group. The GRE is optional for Physics and Astronomy in 2020.

For graduate applications to MSU, you can apply for an application fee waiver through the Big Ten Academic Alliance at

I aim to recruit students and postdoctoral scholars to my lab based on a holistic assessment of skills and potential contributions. I continually reflect on how to identify, include, and support a group of people with diverse and complementary strengths. The following is a list of qualifications and characteristics that I have observed to support success in our research area. No one skill or metric can capture individual potential, and all are subject to bias. If you think you can contribute to our research in one or more of these areas, please email your CV and a description of your research interests to dorfman3 at msu dot edu.

  • Background in any of the following: math (through at least multivariable calculus, linear algebra/differential equations even better), physics, chemistry (particularly solid state chemistry, thermodynamics, physical chemistry, analytical methods), computational methods/programming/data analysis, mineralogy, geophysics, geochemistry/petrology
  • Experience in a research lab making measurements and handling data
  • Excitement about technology and methodology, capacity to find joy in working with synchrotron facilities, lasers, electron microscopes or other instrumentation
  • The right balance of hard work/self-motivation, seeing the big picture/self-regulation, and striving for efficiency and innovation so that you can get great things done while caring for yourself
  • Independence and creativity, with a drive to put your own scientific ideas into practice
  • Empathy and respect for others, with a desire to learn, admit mistakes, act on constructive feedback, and support the success of fellow researchers
  • Organization skills to make plans, keep the lab functional, and effectively manage data and records
  • Skill and practice explaining science in writing, orally, and using media, with sensitivity to the audience’s state of knowledge and interests
  • Ability to be a good citizen of the group, department, and broader research community and to promote a diverse and inclusive environment

Career options

Career destinations of colleagues who have graduated with Ph.D.s in similar labs:

  • Faculty positions at universities and colleges
  • Postdoc positions at universities
  • Lab managers at universities
  • DOE national laboratory staff scientists and facility managers, i.e. Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Sandia
  • Corporate R&D: Apple, ExxonMobil
  • High-pressure industry R&D: Almax-easyLab, Sumitomo
  • Editor at Science
  • AAAS
  • Military (Army, Navy)
  • “Left science”: Life insurance, computer networking, finance

Funding opportunities

MSU and other organizations offer many opportunities for funding to support research projects! Here are some resources for getting your own funding if you are…

…A student:

…A postdoctoral scholar: