2012 – present – Post-doctoral research assistant, Natural History Museum.
2011 - 2012 - Post-doctoral research associate, University of Manchester.
2010 - 2011 - Post-doctoral research scholar, University of Chicago.
2007 – 2010 - Ph.D. Isotope Cosmochemistry, University of Manchester.
2003 – 2007 - MEarthSci (Hons) Geology with Planetary Science (First), University of Manchester.
Talking to the public and promoting your research is one of the most enjoyable and important parts of being a scientist. I regularly provide tours and talks to interested visitors, school groups and local societies, and participate in the Museum’s Nature Live series. Over the years I have also been involved in several larger outreach events, including:
2013 – Science Uncovered, Natural History Museum
Live From music festival, Jodrell Bank
Lates with Mastercard, Natural History Museum
2012 – Organiser of Meteorite Day at the Manchester Museum, as part of the Manchester Science Festival.
2010 – MoonWatch, Jodrell Bank
My research focuses on the laboratory analysis of meteorites and extra-terrestrial materials returned to Earth by space missions. I like using novel techniques to study these precious samples in order to understand how the solar system evolved from a cloud of gas and dust to the Sun, planets and asteroids that we see today.
Water on Earth is a key ingredient for life but it is still unclear how it got here. One theory is that water was delivered to Earth by comets and asteroids. To test this I research a group of meteorites, the carbonaceous chondrites, which contain minerals such as clays that were formed by aqueous alteration on asteroids. At the Museum we use X-ray diffraction to determine the type and abundance of minerals in carbonaceous chondrites. We also make use of large research facilities such as the Diamond synchrotron to reveal details about the chemical environment in which these minerals formed. Knowing where and when water was available in the early solar system allows us to understand how it may have come to Earth and its role as a starting point for life.
Presolar grains come from stars that existed before our solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Extracted from meteorites, these incredibly small (less than the width of a human hair!) dust grains can be used to study how important elements such as C, N and O are created in giant stars. Using specialist analytical techniques I analyse the isotopic and elemental composition of presolar grains to determine the physical and chemical conditions in different types of stars, and try to understand how stars are involved in the formation and evolution of galaxies and solar systems.
Enstatite chondrites make up only a few percent of all meteorites that fall on Earth. Unlike most meteorites they contain an unusual mixture of silicates, sulphides and metal that suggests they formed under highly reducing conditions close to the Sun. The enstatite chondrites were also altered by heating and impact events on their asteroid parent bodies and therefore provide a record of processes that were taking place in the region where the Earth formed. I try to piece together the early history of the inner solar system by studying noble gases and radioactive isotopes in enstatite chondrites.
Read more about extraterrestrial materials projects at the Museum on their dedicated research pages.