After graduating from The Queen's College, Oxford, in 2002 with a degree in Biological Sciences I moved to University College London for a four year combined MRes-PhD programme with the CoMPLEX (Centre for Mathematics & Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology) department. I was awarded my doctorate (thesis available here) in 2008, which has been reprinted by academic publishers as Martian Death Rays. I'm now working in the Centre for Planetary Sciences, researching in the field of astrobiology and the possibility of microbial life surviving in the surface dust of Mars in the face of the constant rain of radiation from space. I use a combination of computer models to simulate the penetration of space radiation and laboratory experiments on bacteria I've isolated from Antarcica and signs of life that might remain on Mars.
In 2003 I was awarded second prize in the THES / OUP science writing competition for an article on the parallels between the structure of language and proteins, and in 2004 I won second prize in the Daily Telegraph / BASF Young Science Writer Award and first place in the Royal Astronomical Society university science writing competition. My first book, Life in the Universe: A Beginner's Guide, was published by Oneworld Publications of Oxford in April 2007, and my children's illustrated science book Tourist's Guide to the Solar System came out with Dorling Kindersley in February 2012. In 2009 I was a national finalist in the FameLab competition to find the new faces of science communication (watch my TV showreel video here).
I give regular talks at schools and science festivals (and even aboard cruise ships!), and also act as an 'ambassador' for science through the NOISE (New Outlooks in Science and Engineering) programme. If you would like to book me to speak at your school please see my entry on the ScienceLive database of science events.
15. Zhang D., Muller J-P., Lavender S., Walton D., Dartnell L.R., (2012), Fluorescent analysis of photosynthetic microbes and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons linked to optical remote sensing, Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. Spatial Inf. Sci., XXXIX-B8, 555-559
14. Dartnell L.R., Patel M.R., Storrie-Lombardi M.C., Ward J.M., Muller J-P., (2012), Experimental determination of photostability and fluorescence-based detection of PAHs on the Martian surface, Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 47(5), 806-819
13. Dartnell L.R., Page K., Villar S.J., Wright G., Munshi T., Scowen I., Ward J.M., Edwards H.G.M., (2012) Destruction of Raman biosignatures by ionising radiation and the implications for life-detection on Mars. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 403(1), 131-144
*This publication was selected by the journal editors as a Paper In Forefront
12. Dartnell L.R., Storrie-Lombardi M.C., Mullineaux C.W., Ruban A.V., Wright G., Griffiths A.D., Muller J-P., Ward J.M, (2011) Degradation of Cyanobacterial Biosignatures by Ionizing Radiation, Astrobiology, 11(10), 997-1016
11. Dartnell L.R., (2011) Ionizing Radiation and Life, Astrobiology, 11(6), 551-582
10. Dartnell L.R., Storrie-Lombardi M.C., Ward J.M., (2010) Complete fluorescent fingerprints of extremophilic and photosynthetic microbes, International Journal of Astrobiology, 9(4), 245-257
9. Dartnell L.R., Hunter S.J., Lovell K.V., Coates A.J., Ward J.M., (2010) Low-temperature ionising radiation resistance of Deinococcus radiodurans and Antarctic Dry Valley bacteria, Astrobiology, 10(7), 717-732
*This paper was selected as a key article by the journal editor and so offered as Open Access
8. Dartnell L.R., Fallaize D.R., Whiting S.J., Ward J.M., (2010) Desiccation resistance of Antarctic Dry Valley bacteria isolated from contrasting locations, Antarctic Science, 22(2), 171-172
7. Dartnell L.R., Burchell M.J., (2009) Survey on Astrobiology Research and Teaching Activities within the United Kingdom, Astrobiology vol. 9 (8), 717-730
6. Le Postollec A., Incerti S., Dobrijevic M., Desorgher L., Santin G., Moretto P., Vandenabeele-Trambouze O., Coussot G., Dartnell L., Nieminen P., (2009) Monte-Carlo simulation of the radiation environment encountered by a biochip during a space mission to Mars, Astrobiology, 9(3), 311-23
5. Dartnell et al (2007), Martian sub-surface ionising radiation: biosignatures and geology, Biogeosciences, 4(4), p.545-558
*This paper was an invited contribition after my EGU Outstanding Young Scientist award
4. Dartnell et al (2007), Modelling the surface and subsurface Martian radiation environment: Implications for astrobiology, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L02207
*This paper was selected by the editors for a special highlight in the journal
3. P. Morthekai, M. Jain, L. R. Dartnell et al (2007), Modelling of the dose-rate variations with depth in the Martian regolith using GEANT4, Nuclear Instruments and Methods A, 580(1), 667-670
2. Dartnell et al (2006), Modelling Planetary Radiation Environments: Astrobiological Perspectives, Proceedings of the European Modelling Symposium, ISBN 0-9516509-3-9/978-0-9516509-3-6
1. Dartnell et al (2005), Robustness of the p53 network and biological hackers, FEBS Letters, 579, p3037-3042