Doctoral fellows in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Department of Geosciences can study many aspects of the scienctific field, including stratigraphy, or the study of rock layers and layering.
"Your work will have a positive, transformational impact on our alma mater for decades to come."

Clayton "Yarri" Davis, chair of the department's External Advisory Board 

U of A Geosciences Reaches Significant $500,000 Fundraising Milestone

U of A Geosciences Reaches Significant $500,000 Fundraising Milestone

U of A Geosciences Reaches Significant $500,000 Fundraising Milestone

by Andra Liwag

The University of Arkansas Department of Geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Scienceshas succeeded in raising more than $500,000 to meet the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation Match for geosciences doctoral fellowships.

This is the latest of several milestones the department has achieved over the last 10 years, including:

  • Creating an endowed chair of petroleum geology,
  • Increasing graduate stipends, and
  • Establishing the state of Arkansas’ first and only geosciences doctoral program.

Meeting this latest goal is significant because fellowships provide financial support for doctoral candidates and help attract the best and brightest students to the University of Arkansas, said Todd Shields, dean of Fulbright College.

“A fully realized doctoral program isn’t complete without competitive fellowship opportunities,” Shields said. “And a fully realized doctoral program will further strengthen the whole department by spurring growth and creating better undergraduate and graduate studies through enhanced course offerings, research opportunities and recruitment efforts for world-class scholars.”

The doctorate in geosciences focuses on the primary research areas of basin evolution and analysis, which includes multiple aspects of petroleum geology that incorporate sedimentation, structural geology, stratigraphy and geophysics. Other research specialities include crustal and mantle composition and tectonic evolution, neotectonics and dynamic geomorphology, groundwater dynamics, karst hydrology and limnology, paleoclimatology and geoinformatics, with GIS, remote sensing, GPS geodesy and geospatial analysis.

Christopher L. Liner, the Storm Endowed Chair of Petroleum Geology and chair of the Department of Geosciences, said that the doctorate is designed for committed scholars who are preparing to work within the academic community, industry or government. Research is a core component of the program, which fits with the University of Arkansas’ commitment to maintaining its status among the 2 percent of universities in America classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as having the highest level of research.

“Geosciences research requires rigorous observation, quantitative analysis and modeling in order to yield scientific results that are acceptable for publication in first-rate, internationally ranked journals,” Liner said. “Meeting this match will allow us to further enhance our research and degree programs. Great new faculty hires have already helped to further strengthen the program and it is exhilarating to see the quality and breadth of the research being conducted.”

Additionally, Liner said that with this achievement, the Department of Geosciences has received more than $3.2 million in monetary gifts and pledges, and over $12 million of in-kind software, equipment and data gifts, since the department’s External Advisory Board was formed a decade ago.

“This is an exciting moment for our advisory board members and all who worked so hard to reach this achievement,” said Clayton “Yarri” Davis, chair of the department’s External Advisory Board.

“A big thank you goes out to the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, incredibly generous donors like Maurice Storm, and everyone who has helped make the Department of Geosciences what is today,” Davis said. “You have all truly made our degrees even more valuable. Your work will have a positive, transformational impact on our alma mater for decades to come, keeping the Department of Geosciences a strong and vibrant program with a bright future.”

For more information, or to make a gift in support of the Department of Geosciences, please contact Blake Rickman, director of development and external relations, at 479-575-3712 or

The 2016 Department of Geosciences External Advisory Board members include Chair Clayton “Yarri” Davis, Vice Chair Ron Keisler, Doug Bailey, Reginald Beardsley, Don Castleberry, Bill Coffey, Erica Cortez-Combs, Tom Freeman, Taylor Friesenhahn, Jonathan Gillip, Melody Hacker, Jeff Hall, Larry Handley, Lacie Knight, Gerry Lundy, Mike Malloy, Shane Matson, John Mitchell, Craig Parker, Ed Ratchford, John Sharp, Ron Snyder, Tad Sours, Maurice Storm, Eddie Valek, Heath Wallis, Alex Warmath, Devin White, Charles Wickstrom, John G. Williams, William Willis, and Edith Wilson.

About the Department of Geosciences: The Department of Geosciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in earth science, geography and geology. Courses focus on oil and gas exploration, environmental problems, historic preservation, planetary science and the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the earth. Field camps and research programs hone skills and prepare students for rewarding careers in all aspects of geosciences.

About the JWilliam Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Andra Liwag

About the author

Andra Liwag serves as director of communications for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.