My research is focused on water-rock interaction as recorded in a planet's near-surface environment. I use both experimental methods (laboratory and analogue studies) and observational methods (rover and orbital data analysis) to quantitatively address geologic questions on Earth, Mars, and Europa.
Descriptions of my past and ongoing projects can be found below.
EXPERIMENTAL CONSTRAINTS ON GROUNDWATER-DRIVEN REDOX GRADIENTS ON MARS
I am using abiotic laboratory sediment columns to simulate the ancient Mars subsurface and identify specific conditions where groundwater redox gradients can be developed. I am Science PI on this research grant hosted in JPL's Origins and Habitability Lab.
THE EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY ON MINERAL SPECTRA
Using a small atmospheric chamber attached to an FTIR spectrometer, I am examining how diurnal cycling of temperature and relative humidity affect the VNIR spectra of several Mars-relevant hydrous minerals. In particular, I am interested in the speed and extent to which these cycles can cause phase and hydration state changes, which has implications for the martian hydrological cycle.
CHEMOSTRATIGRAPHY OF GALE CRATER
Using new statistical analyses, I am looking at how co-movement of elements and geological indicators through time can inform our understanding of water conditions in Gale crater.
MINERALOGY AND STRATIGRAPHY OF MT. SHARP
Using CRISM images processed using a new technique by our coauthors, I revisited parts of Mt. Sharp other than the rover traverse to understand how mineralogy changes across morphological contacts. These stratigraphic relationships and how they vary laterally can help constrain the crater's history, both during its lacustrine phase and long after.
LAKE TOWUTI: A TERRESTRIAL ANALOGUE FOR LAKE GALE?
Lake Towuti is a redox-stratified lake in ultramafic bedrock in Indonesia. This provides a rare opportunity to test the hypothesis that Lake Gale was redox-stratified. I have characterized the crystalline and amorphous mineralogy of the catchment, lake basin, and a 100 m long drill core to understand what signals can be uniquely linked to lake conditions.
DIAMOND COLOR ORIGIN USING FTIR AND RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY
Spectroscopy is a main tool to investigate whether diamonds are natural, lab-grown, and/or have had their color enhanced. My expertise at the Gemological Institute of America was in very small gems, or melee. I developed new analytical techniques for quickly determining the mineralogy and color origin of melee using FTIR spectroscopy, publishing results and methods in Gems & Gemology.
BIOMARKERS AND RAPID HEATING EXPERIMENTS
Methylphenanthrenes are organic molecules that can be used as a paleothermometer to understand past fault slip rates. We calibrated this technique using fault samples with pseudotachylite, a visible record of the most intensely heated part of the rock. To understand the kinetics of these reactions we also conducted rapid heating experiments to see how the molecules broke down under different time and temperature regimes.