Photo courtesy of Ed Marshall

Photo courtesy of Ed Marshall


I am broadly interested in the geological history of Solar System bodies and how life might have evolved on other planets and moons. I study microbes that live in the most extreme places on Earth such as the geysers and volcanoes of Iceland and red acidic rivers of Rio Tinto in Spain, as analogues for life we might find on other planets. I investigate how these microbes get trapped inside rocks and minerals, and how they can be identified using spectroscopy techniques, to help direct the search for life on Mars. I am particularly interested in, and involved in, developing techniques and technologies, such as IR capable microscopic imagers, for biomarker detection and developing the use of IR spectroscopy in astrobiological investigations. I am also involved with planetary analogue missions. Outside of my current experience, I am especially interested in studying organics within space materials and the prospects for life on Europa and Titan.


  • Freelance Science Writer – “Goldilocks and the Water Bears” (January 2015 – present)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate – The Open University (November 2011 – March 2014) ESA-funded CAFE project – Concepts for Activities in the Field for Exploration
  • Assistant Professor – Western University (January 2011 – May 2011) Astronomy 2021b the Search for Life in the Universe
  • CPSX Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Western University (February 2009 – September 2011) The preservation and identification of life within: impact craters such as the Haughton Impact Structure, Canada and Barringer Crater, Arizona; and other Mars analogue environments such as Rio Tinto, Spain; Iceland; The Ontong Java Plateau and carbonate speleothems of New Mexico.
  • Flight Director for a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) funded Analogue Mission: “Lunar Sample Return from the South Pole–Aiken Basin”.


  • PhD – Imperial College London (October 2005 – December 2008) ‘A Multidisciplinary Study of Biomarkers in Hydrothermal Deposits: Applications to the Search for Life on Mars’.
  • MSci Geology – First Class Honours – Imperial College London (October 2001 – June 2005) ‘Olivine grains containing Fe-oxide grains: Micrometeorites or Meteorite Ablation products?’