My research focuses on processes that occurred in the primitive Earth, during the period when core-mantle differentiation was ongoing. This is the era of the Earth’s history when major chemical reservoirs were established and the Earth acquired its bulk physical properties. I study the chemistry of different groups of elements through experiments carried out at high temperature and pressures using the laser-heated diamond anvil cell. This apparatus is capable of simulating the extreme conditions that existed in a deep terrestrial magma ocean. The results of these experiments are applicable to questions regarding terrestrial planet formation, bulk compositions and volatile accretion.
Originally from Germany, I finished my doctorate at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich in 2016. I am interested in how magnetic fields evolve with time, especially in the early solar system during planet formation. So far, my research is focused on the fundamentals of remanence acquisition and can be broadly divided into three main themes. (1) the magnetic properties of materials associated with meteorites, (2) the effect of high pressure on magnetic properties of minerals and (3) the rock magnetism of ultra-fine particles. By understanding these fundamental recording processes, we will be able to have a more robust interpretation of the magnetic signals that are retained in meteorites. At Harvard, I will be able to combine my interests and work on the fascinating and complicated paleomagnetic record of Mars.
I combine approaches from the bio- and geo-sciences to address big-picture questions about the history of life on Earth and the potential for life elsewhere. This research is motivated by a desire to understand how life and the planet have changed together through time to reach the state that they’re at today and how that might be different on other planets where the environmental context for life or evolutionary contingency differ. My primary research goal is to understand the origin and evolutionary history of major metabolic pathways that have defined the primary productivity of the biosphere, such as photosynthesis, methanogenesis, and nitrogen fixation. These metabolisms have fueled life on Earth for most of its history, but were not all present at the origin of life. Instead, evolutionary innovations have accumulated through time, gradually increasing the productivity of the biosphere to what it is today. Understanding the origin of these metabolisms can help us to understand how and when life on Earth became productive and began to drive geochemical cycles, and will help us to predict how life may evolve on other planets.