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My research at the University of Edinburgh’s UK Centre for Astrobiology explores how rocks, minerals and sediments on Earth and Mars can select, shape and sustain communities of organisms, and how organisms in turn produce, degrade and modify rocks and minerals to leave lasting traces. I use experimental, analytical and field-based techniques, and publish in a wide range of journals.

Career highlights

2019– Chancellor’s Fellow in Astrobiology, University of Edinburgh
2019– Co-director, UK Centre for Astrobiology
2019 (Michaelmas) Institute of Advanced Study Fellow, Durham University
2017–2019 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of Edinburgh
2014–2017 Postdoctoral Associate, Briggs lab, Yale University
2011–2019 BA (Philosophy), Birkbeck College, University of London
2010–2014 PhD (Geology), University of Aberdeen
2013 (Summer) Planetary Biology Intern, NASA
2006–2010 MEarthSci (Earth Sciences) St. Edmund Hall, Oxford

Active research questions include:

  1. How do fossils from Earth inform the search for past or present life on Mars?
  2. How do microorganisms like bacteria become fossilised, and how much palaeobiologically valuable information is preserved?
  3. How would microorganisms fossilise on Mars?
  4. How good is the fossil and geochemical record of the “deep biosphere”?
  5. How did microorganisms in sediments and microbial mats influence fossilisation processes in exceptionally preserved fossil assemblages from the Ediacaran and other periods?

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