Director: Christiane Helling (Astronomy)
Board members: Katherine Hawley (Philosophy)
  Sami Mikhail (Earth Science)
  V. Anne Smith (Biology)
  Peter Woitke (Astronomy)
Prof Andrew Cameron
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Exoplanet Transit Search, Stellar Variability Andrew studies stellar magnetic fields and the discovery and characterisation of extrasolar planets. He is the UK Co-PI of the HARPS-North spectrograph project, analysing high-precision radial-velocity measurements and transit data to push the limits on planetary mass determination down towards the Earth-mass regime.
Dr Mark Claire
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Early Earth, Atmospheric Chemistry, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Astrobiology Mark studies the atmospheric chemistry, climate, biogeochemistry and habitability on Earth and the terrestrial planets in the solar system. His overarching motivation is to improve the models that will be used to interpret spectra of extrasolar planets.
Dr Claire Cousins
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Planetary Analogue Research, Robotic Space Exploration, Geobiology PURE
Dr Martin Dominik
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Exoplanet Search by Microlensing, incl. Exo-moons, Robotic Telescopes Martin exploits the effect of gravitational bending of light for determining the demographics of planets across the Milky Way as well as of the structure of the planetary systems they form. He is moreover interested in what their diversity and abundance means for life on planet Earth and beyond.
Dr Andy Gardner
School of Biology
Social Evolution, Cosmological Natural Selection, Anthropic Bias PURE
Prof Katherine Hawley
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
PURE
Science and Society, Trust and Cooperation Katherine's research spans ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. She is interested in issues of trust and public engagement with exoplanet science; the role of experts in policy debate; communication challenges in cross-disciplinary research. She is a Professor of Philosophy and the author of Trust: A Very Short Introduction (2012).
Dr Christiane Helling
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Atmosphere Modelling, Cloud Formation, Atmosphere Charge Processes, Lightning Christiane studies the chemical diversity of exoplanets and brown dwarfs as exoplanet analogues. This includes the study of cloud formation, charge processes and lightning, and how these processes enable the emergence of biomolecules. She works with virtual laboratories as tools to study complex models of 3D globally circulating atmosphere systems. She is also working on the concept of habitability on cosmological scales.
Prof Keith Horne
School of Physics & Astronomy
Exoplanet Search by Microlensing PURE   ADS
Dr Sami Mikhail
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Experimental and Theoretical Geochemistry & Petrology, Atmosphere-formation Sami's research is underpinned by a strong desire to understand the origin and evolution of planetary atmospheres. This means we need to understand the nature of the volatile elements (primarily C-N-Noble gases) in the interior of planets to ascertain how they behave during accretion, differentiation, and plate-tectonic cycling.
Prof Tim Mulgan
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Future of Humanity, Purpose in the Universe, Ethics of Exploration PURE
Prof Nigel Rapport
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Cosmopolitanism and Globalisation, Open Society, Freedom PURE
Dr Timothy Raub
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Dawn of Complex Life, Major Episodes of Environmental Change, Onset of Granitic Magmatism PURE
Dr Ben Sachs
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
PURE
Environmental Ethics, Climate Change, Our Responsibilities to Nonhuman Life Ben specialises in ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of law. His research is aimed at examining how our ethical assumptions about the value of human life and of the earth's environment are made precarious by the possible discovery of extraterrestrial life and life-supporting environments. He is part of an RSE grant, "Exoplanet Ethics", headed up by Katherine Hawley.
Dr Paul Savage
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Meteoritics, Planetary Differentiation Processes Paul studies the formation and evolution of rocky planets (with a focus on our own solar system), from tracing the sources and types of material involved in planetary accretion, to the subsequent differentiation of planets into silicate mantles, metallic cores, and volatile-rich atmospheres and hydrospheres. Paul's main tools for this are the analysis of stable isotope variations in both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial samples.
Dr Kevin Scharp
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Evidence and Explanation, Science and Religion, Origins of Life PURE
Dr Aleks Scholz
School of Physics & Astronomy
Observations of Brown Dwarfs and Protoplanetary Disks PURE   ADS
Dr Aurora Sicilia-Aguilar
School of Physics & Astronomy
Multi-wavelength Observation of Star- and Planet Formation PURE   ADS
Dr V Anne Smith
School of Biology
PURE
Computational Biology, Complex Biological Networks, Simulation Framework for Evaluation of Algorithms Anne studies a range of complex biological networks: from genes, to neurons, to ecosystems. She develops machine learning tools for inference about biological systems; she evaluates algorithms and develops theory with both biologically-realistic and artificial life-based simulations. She complements her computational work with experimental evolution studies in living microbes.
Dr Eva Stüeken
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Co-evolution of Earth and the Origin of Life, Biogeochemical Cycles, Astrobiology PURE
Dr Peter Woitke
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Chemical Modelling of Planet Forming Disks, Multi-wavelength Observation Modelling Peter explores the physical and chemical structure of protoplanetary discs, brown dwarf atmospheres, and more recently exoplanet atmospheres. He has developed several modelling platforms and tools that are used world-wide to couple astrochemistry, non-LTE heating & cooling, cloud formation and radiative transfer. Peter collaborates in a large European team to collect observational data for protoplanetary discs from the latest instruments like ALMA and Herschel.
Dr Aubrey Zerkle
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Geobiology, Early-Earth Atmospheric Chemistry Aubrey is interested in understanding the co-evolution of life with planetary environments over geologic timescales. She utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach, including stable isotope geochemistry, microbiology, trace element and nutrient analyses, to examine geosphere-biosphere interactions and possible feedbacks in modern and paleo-environments.

PostDocs and PhD students:

Dr Elyse Allender
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Planetary Science, Remote Sensing, Planetary Analogue Research, Image Analysis Elyse's research at the University of St Andrews and Aberystwyth University focuses on the field and laboratory testing of the PanCam, ISEM, and CLUPI instrument emulators for the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars rover, as well as the development of software tools which will exploit the wealth of visible and near-infrared data generated by these instruments and further their utility for detecting evidence of past habitability on Mars.
Dr Duncan Forgan
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Star Formation, Protostellar Disc Evolution, Planet Formation, Astrobiology, SETI Duncan's key focus is the formation of planets via gravitational instability, which he explores with hydrodynamic simulations and population synthesis models. He also investigates exotic planetary habitability, and collaborates with the Breakthrough Listen team in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, constraining solutions to Fermi's Paradox and formulating post-detection policy.
Dr Mark Fox-Powell
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Geomicrobiology, Geochemistry, Planetary Science, Astrobiology Mark's interests lie in maximising scientific return from upcoming or current planetary missions, particularly those that are exploring potential habitats for extraterrestrial life. He applies a range of geochemical, spectroscopic and microbiological techniques to answer questions of habitability and biosignature detection in natural analogue environments and in the laboratory.
Dr Boris Laurent
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Planetary Sciences, UV Luminescence, Astrobiology, Experimental Astrophysics PURE
Eleanor Mare
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Deep Nitrogen Cycle Atmospheres are essential for planetary habitability. Our atmosphere has changed a lot since life first evolved, but we don't know exactly how. Eleanor studies nitrogen (the main gas in air), because the atmospheric mass might have changed if nitrogen was gradually taken up by, or released from, the solid Earth.
Dr Annelies Mortier
School of Physics & Astronomy
PURE   ADS
Exoplanet Radial Velocity Search, Stellar Atmospheres, Stellar Variability Annelies studies stellar atmospheric parameters and chemical abundances via high-resolution spectroscopy and is a planet hunter. She is a collaborator of the HARPS-N project, aiming to determine the mass of small planets via radial velocities and trying to understand stellar variability.
Dr Lotta Purkamo
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Geomicrobiology, Microbial Ecology, Astrobiology Lotta's research focuses on determining the limits of life in deep terrestrial crystalline bedrock. She uses molecular biology methods, including next-generation sequencing and metagenomics, to understand subsurface microbial life and its hindrances, and to evaluate the possibility of emergence and sustainability of life in analogous environments such as deep impact structures on early Earth or subsurface brines in Mars.
Dr Will Rocha
School of Physics & Astronomy
Chemical Modelling of Planet Forming Disks, Laboratory astrophysics ADS
Dr Sarah Rugheimer
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
PURE
Astrobiology and Exoplanet Atmospheres Sarah is modeling the atmosphere and climate of extrasolar planets with a focus on atmospheric biosignatures in Earth-like planets. Her research particularly examines the star-planet interaction, studying the effect of UV activity on the planet's atmosphere and detectability with future missions such as JWST, E-ELT and LUVOIR.
Fran Bartolić
School of Physics & Astronomy
Exoplanet Search by Microlensing, Modelling Microlensing Events Fran is a PhD student working with Dr Martin Dominik on characterising populations of cool exoplanets by means of gravitational microlensing observations. His focus is on modelling microlensing events using advanced statistical and machine learning methods, and quantifying the evidence for the presence of a planet in noisy data.
Bethan Gregory
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Modelling Atmospheric Oxygen Isotopes
Colin Mettam
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Biogeochemistry, Nutrient Cycling on Early Earth, Mass Extinction and Recovery
Arola Moreras Marti
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Geochemistry, Isotopes, Geomicrobiology, Astrobiology, Analogues
Nicole Schanche
School of Physics & Astronomy
Exoplanet Transit Detection, Machine Learning
Ashley Watkins
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Theories of fiction, the metaphysics and semantics of fictional objects Ash is a PhD student working on the philosophy of fiction. His interests include definitions of life and how they do and ought to direct exoplanet research, what, if anything, science fiction can tell us about exoplanet exploration, and what our rights and ethical limitations are in our exploratory practices.
Natalya Zavina-James
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Early Earth, Geobiology, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Co-evolution of Life and Atmosphere