Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Meet Jessica Stromberg, PhD candidate in Geology

“Western is one of only a few universities in Canada that has a Geology graduate program, and a collaborative specialization Planetary Science and Exploration. As an undergraduate research assistant, I met a couple graduate students and my present advisor at a conference through my advisor at the time who is adjunct at Western. I was struck by the quality and breadth of research in the department of Earth Sciences, and the support for graduate student research, collaboration, and professional development.”

Supervisors: Dr. Neil Banerjee and Dr. Gordon Southam

Where is “home” for you?
Home for me is now split somewhere between Winnipeg and London. Most of my family is in Winnipeg, however I’ve been in London for over four years now, so it also has aspects of home for me.

Describe your research.
My research is focused on a group of 2.7-billion-year-old rocks from a gold mine in Northern Ontario. I am using geochemistry to better understand the conditions present at the time that they were deposited. Basically I am fingerprinting the chemistry of the hydrothermal fluids that created them, as well as the gold that was deposited. This is important for understanding conditions on early earth with implications for early life, which is what initially drew me to the topic. However presently the bulk of my research is focused on improving efficiency in mineral exploration and processing.

What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?
The community and culture within our department, in addition to the opportunities for experiential learning, collaboration and networking. The department of Earth Science is incredibly diverse in terms of research interests, yet collaboration and mentoring with faculty members and even graduate students is commonplace, and encouraged. During my time here I have had the opportunity to participate in multiple experiential learning opportunities in the role of student, teaching assistant, and field trip organizer/leader. As well, I have been able to guide the direction of my own research, and received support to present my work at international conferences.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone considering applying to your graduate program?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your potential advisor, their students, and other students in the department. It’s important to find a project you’re passionate about, an advisor you can work with, and an environment you will be supported and productive in.

How do you de-stress?
That’s a split between cooking, a cold beer with friends, and being active/exercise, which at this point mostly involves cycling and rock climbing.

What idea, suggestion, or comment would you like to share with the Western graduate community?
I would like stress the importance of the idea that we are indeed one community of researchers, not just researchers from separate departments. So spaces (like the Grad Club) and events that bring us together are integral. I have found that the opportunity to discuss your research beyond your lab group or department to be invaluable and can lead to new perspectives and collaborations.

Program Websites

Program Contact

Jason Cambria (
Academic Program Coordinator

Department of Earth Sciences

Western University
Biological & Geological Sciences Building Rm 1026
London, Ontario N6A 5B7

t. 519-661-2111 ext. 84523
f. 519-661-3198

The objective of the PhD program is to provide the supervision, intellectual environment and resources to permit an aspiring scientist to develop and complete a thesis, involving a significant contribution to knowledge, on a specific project in Geology, or in a collaborative project involving one or more related disciplines. The scope of these research projects represents an enormous range of interests, from purely 'academic' to strongly 'applied' industrial and environmental topics.

The Own Your Future doctoral professional development program will help you become a career-ready graduate with the skills necessary to excel in your studies and achieve your future goals. By participating in the program, you will assess your own strengths and opportunities for growth, choose what skills you want to enhance during your time at Western, and learn how to articulate the skills you gained in your degree to optimize your future career opportunities. To learn more, visit

Program Length

  • 12 Terms

Program Design

  • Full-time study
  • Thesis-based

Funding Information

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the following scholarships (if eligible):

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree or equivalent from a university, college or institute, and provide evidence of research potential.
  • Achieved at least a 70% average in the Master's degree. An average of 78% in the Master's degree is necessary to be eligible to receive departmental funding.

Additional Requirements

  • Scans of transcripts from all post-secondary study completed.
  • A CV or resume.
  • Statement of Intent for graduate study.
  • Contact information for three referees, who will be asked to complete confidential letters of reference online.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose first language is not English must furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language:

We can offer a waiver of the English proficiency test when the applicant has completed at least one year of study at an accredited university where English is the medium of instruction. Waivers are not guaranteed and are judged on a case-by-case basis.

Application Deadline

Domestic and International Applicants:

  • Deadline is January 24 for the May 1 or September 1 start date.

Students can be accepted who apply after the January 24 deadline in exceptional circumstances. Please visit the department website for more information.

Acceptance notifications are processed on a rolling basis throughout the year beginning in March.

Fields of Research

  • Earth and Planetary Systems
  • Earth Evolution: Surface, Life and Climate
  • Resource Geoscience
  • Tectonic Processes and Crustal Dynamics