Photo credit: Elizabeth Mason

Welcome to my website and blog. As a bit of a background to get you started, I began my academic life as a geologist and geochemist studying ancient volcanoes in the Arctic and Caribbean, on which I still actively publish. However, I now also analyse tiny pieces of space dust that are collected by organisations such as NASA and I’ve also been lucky enough to work on comet samples returned to Earth by the NASA Stardust mission to Comet Wild2, and asteroid samples returned by the JAXA Hayabusa mission to Itokawa.

A major part of my current work analysing dust-sized cometary and asteroid samples uses a NanoSIMS (see a picture of this instrument at the bottom of the page), a type of mass spectrometer that measures different elements and isotopes extremely accurately and precisely. It’s these samples that allow me to understand more about the conditions in the early Solar System, helping to piece together the history and formation of the planets and other Solar System bodies. Comets also contain organic material which can help us to understand how the initial seeds for life may have been delivered to Earth. My work on comets has given me a great interest in the ESA Rosetta mission and I am a science co-I on the Rosetta Ptolemy lander instrument. Have a click on My Current Research page for more information.

I’m currently based in the USA where I continue to work on my research but as a keen science communicator I’ve also taken on the challenge of writing a popular science book called Catching Stardust which will be published early 2018 by Bloomsbury Sigma, so watch this space for more news! In the meantime, check out my other pages to find out more.

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I regularly update my blog which you can see here.

NanoSIMS 50L at The Open University

NanoSIMS 50L at The Open University