Biography and CV

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In general, I am interested in the early evolution of Earth and other bodies in the inner Solar System, including the processes of accretion, core formation, and silicate differentiation. These early events shaped the Earth and planets as we know them today, but many questions remain regarding the timing and nature of each process. A major observable regarding the terrestrial planets is the large variability in volatile element abundances across the different bodies. The difficulty is that the terrestrial planets formed in the inner Solar System close to the young Sun, in regions where temperatures were too high (>1000 K) for the condensation of volatile elements. Two main theories exist to explain the origin of volatiles in the inner Solar System. The first is that the Earth originally accreted devoid of volatiles, which were later delivered to Earth, possibly by comets. An alternative explanation is that the volatiles were able to condense near enough to Earth to be delivered early, during the main stage of terrestrial accretion. Understanding the origin of volatiles in the inner Solar System is a key step towards understanding not only the processes of planetary accretion, but also for identifying the delivery mechanism of elements necessary for the eventual development of life.

The study of the isotopic composition of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial materials is a powerful tool with which to investigate these and other questions, since only specific processes are able to modify isotopic abundances. For example, volatile loss through evaporation enriches the solid phase in the heavy isotopes of an element relative to the gas in a process known as kinetic isotope fractionation. Another example is the preferential partitioning of isotopes between different silicates phases during igneous differentiation due to the difference in bond energies of minerals at equilibrium. My research is focused around high precision isotopic analyses of “non-traditional” stable isotope systems (e.g., Si, Rb, Zn, Ca, Cd) on terrestrial, lunar and meteorite samples to search for such isotopic signatures that provide clues towards Solar System formation.