I am a geologist specializing in the study of extraterrestrial rocks and cosmochemistry. The distant, resource-rich asteroid belt is my field area. Meteorites, pieces of planets, and "left-overs" from the formation of the solar system over four and a half billion years ago, are clues to the origin of our solar system and planetary systems around other stars. I develop thermodynamic models describing the equilibrium distribution of elements between fully speciated gas, liquid, and solid mineral phases at high temperatures. My models describe the outcomes of condensation, evaporation, and crystallization processes affecting the solids and liquid droplets that combined in the oldest meteorites. This modeling of how gas, solid, and melt phases interact at high temperatures and low pressures, contributes to understanding the formation of the first solids, and molten (liquid) rock droplets in the solar system, which eventually led to the accretion of the planets. I also apply x-ray CAT-scan and microscopic imaging to meteorites to get 2 and 3-dimensional images of how they are put together.
I began my research career by investigating how silver, copper, nickel and platinum-group metal ores form in the Earth. By seeing how sulfide minerals react in the laboratory, I was able to model their thermodynamic properties, and develop predictive tools to find metal-rich rock in existing mines.
I serve as the curator of the AMNH meteorite collection. Our mission is to make meteorite samples available for research by scientists throughout the world. Collections-based research is vital to the exploration of space and a better understanding of our origins.
Public outreach, teacher training, and education are part of the Museum's core mission. In 2003, I served as lead curator in reimagining the Museum's magnificent new Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites.