Nicholas J. Montiel is a geologist, planetary scientist, and PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics. He is also an Arizonan who grew up on a steady diet of science fiction, history books, amateur astronomy, hiking, and weird music, and tabletop games.
Nicholas graduated from the University of Arizona with a major in geoscience and minor in planetary science. During his four years in Tucson, he participated in a number of eclectic research projects. He was a telescope operator at the 61″ Gerard P. Kuiper Telescope at the Steward Observatory Catalina Station in the Babad Do’ag Mountains, interned at the Organic Geochemistry Lab, and participated in a study of Titan’s surface composition and geology at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
After graduation, he was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Texas at Austin. Since then, Nicholas has studied the deep Earth carbon cycle, continental rifting and supercontinent break-up, and corona evolution on Venus. He uses 2D numerical models in concert with traditional geological observations, seismic imaging, and remote sensing. Nicholas’s research interests encompass geological processes in the mantle, supercontinent cycles on Earth, and the tectonic evolution of terrestrial planets.
Nicholas also has extensive teaching experience, having been a TA at both the University of Tucson and the University of Texas. He has taught introductory geology, structural geology, field geology, paleontology, sustainability, and Earth systems labs to undergraduate students (some of these during the COVID-19 pandemic). Nicholas has taught the general public as well through science talks at public venues and online. Outside of his scientific work, Nicholas is an TTRPG enthusiast, reader, (novice) boulderer, (also novice) amateur astronomer, and book collector.