Who am I?

What is your job?

I spend most of my days in the lab analysing samples of extra-terrestrial materials, things like pieces of meteorites, or samples brought back from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts. I look at their chemical composition to see what that tells us about the starting materials that the Solar System formed from, and how that starting material has changed to become the planets and other bodies we see in the Solar System today. A large part of my research focuses on age-dating meteorites, calculating how old they are, so we can understand the timing of physical processes in the early Solar System.

How did you end up studying meteorites?

I have always had an interest in space and still want to be an astronaut when I grow up! At school I was always most interested in science subjects, and I went on to study Chemistry at university. Getting into studying meteorites was a bit of a sidestep from chemistry, it enables me to use the knowledge, practical skills and experimental techniques I learnt studying chemistry and apply them in a slightly different way to study meteorites.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I think we’re in a very privileged position to be able to go home at the end of a day at work and say “Today I held a piece of the Moon/Mars/4.5 billion year old meteorite”, not many people can say that!

What is your favourite meteorite?

In some meteorites we can see something called Calcium- Aluminium-rich inclusions (CAIs), they are the oldest solid materials that formed in our Solar System. I think the meteorites where we can clearly see these, something like Allende, are my favourites because we can see/hold the oldest parts of the Solar System.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy getting stuck into a difficult Sudoku puzzle (the “killer” ones are my favourite) or a good book. I also like making my own ice cream!