My research focuses on understanding the mechanics of volcanic eruptions and how they contribute to the evolution of planetary surfaces. Other key research interests of mine include exploration of HF - UHF radar imaging and radiometry studies of planetary surface and subsurface, and development of open source tools for working with planetary radar data.

Volcanic Processes and Products

I investigate how physical processes underlying the emplacement of volcanic deposits are impacted by differences in atmospheric and gravity conditions between various rocky planets. I primarily use numerical modeling to simulate the dynamics of lava flows and pyroclastic density currents [1]. I am also interested in understanding the controls on effusive-explosive transition in basaltic magma, and the conditions required for explosive eruption of basaltic magma on other planets.

Radar and Radiometry

A large part of my research focuses on the applications of radar for studying the surface and shallow subsurface of planets and moons. I work with a variety of datasets, including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) backscatter data, orbital and ground-based Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) observations, and passive microwave (radiometry) datasets to study geologic history and activity, shallow-subsurface stratigraphy, and surface material properties on Earth as well as other planets [2], [3]. I am also interested in the development of electromagnetic (EM) wave propagation and scattering models to describe interaction between EM waves and planetary surfaces [3].

Planetary Surfaces

Sometimes I research how other geologic processes, besides volcanism, have shaped planetary landscapes. This includes studying the dynamics of long runout mass transport processes (like lahars, debris flows, crater flows) in the solar system, investigating the impact of chemical weathering on the surface properties of the highlands of Venus (article in prep.), and geologic characterization of potential Artemis landing sites near the lunar south pole [4].

Spacecraft Missions and Instruments

I am an avid advocate of geophysical investigations of other planets. I am currently a Science Team member of the SAR instrument, VenSAR, selected to fly onboard the European Space Agency's EnVision mission to Venus. I am a collaborator on the VERITAS mission (selected for flight to Venus) and the SHAllow RADar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I served on the Measurement Definition Team for the International - Mars Ice Mapper Mission, culminating in a final report released in 2023 [5]. I work with scientists and engineers from NASA Glenn and UAF on the development of a landed seismometer that can operate under Venus conditions [6].




Current undergraduate students at UAF interested in planetary science topics (specifically any of the research interests listed above), are welcome to contact me. We can design a one-two semester(s) long funded research project that fits your background and interests. Undergraduate research opportunities at UAF are also available through the Office of Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Activity and the Alaska Space Grant program.


There are three graduate programs offered through the UAF Department of Geosciences: Earth System Science, Geoscience, and Geophysics . More information on applying to these programs can be found here. Please contact potential advisors ahead of the deadline to discuss research opportunities. GRE is no longer a requirement for securing admission to any of the graduate programs in the Department of Geosciences. If you are interested in applying to graduate programs at UAF, and are interested in planetary science research, please reach out to discuss potential research projects.


For those looking for funded research positions at the postdoctoral level at UAF, please contact me with brief details regarding your interests and background. There might be funding available to hire a postdoctoral fellow in the near future. I am also happy to help collaborate on external postdoctoral fellowships. Note that postdoctoral fellows at UAF are considered part of the UAF faculty.



This is a hodge-podge of funding resources for graduate students based at US institutions. All listed opportunities are relevant to planetary sciences; some of these funding sources (such as the Smithsonian) have other field-specific opportunities as well. This is by no means an exhaustive list; I will update as and when I become aware of more opportunities.


Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

NASA Postdoctoral Program

Smithsonian Institute - Postdoctoral Earth and Planetary Sciences Fellowship

51 Pegasi b Fellowship

Caltech GPS Postdoctoral Fellowships

JHU Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellowship (there is no standard website; please check the JHU EPS department website during Fall)

UT Geosciences Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship (there is no standard website; keep an eye out on the UT Geosciences department website)




iganesh at alaska dot edu
Geophysical Insitute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
2156 Koyukuk Drive Fairbanks, AK 99775