UCL Earth Sciences


Welcome New Lecturers in Earth Sciences

12 March 2019

The department made five new appointments to the positions of lecturers in Earth Sciences. These appointments were made in the area of geodynamics, vertebrate paleontology, geochemistry, geomorphology & mineral physics. We warmly welcome our new staff!

Earth Sciences New Lecturers

Maxim Ballmer
My research focuses on the structure and evolution of planetary mantles. The mantle of the Earth and of other terrestrial planets in (and beyond) the solar system are shaped by the processes of accretion (e.g., giant impacts), differentiation (magma ocean crystallization, partial decompression melting), solid-state segregation and convective mixing. Mantle present-day structures can be indirectly sampled by e.g. gravity measurements, seismic waves, or the chemistry of hotspot volcanism. To understand planetary evolution, my tools of choice are numerical modeling of mantle convection, and the quantitative comparison of model predictions with geophysical observations and geochemical data.

Matthew Fox
My research focuses on understanding landscape evolution in order to deconvolve complex feedbacks amongst climate and tectonics: how do changes in climate modulate the processes or rates of erosion? how do tectonic processes respond to this redistribution of mass? how quickly does CO2 in Earth’s climate decrease due to increased silicate weathering driven by tectonic activity?
In order to address these fundamental questions, I combine geomorphic and geophysical data with novel numerical methods to study surface processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales. At the large scale, I investigate the rates of orogenesis using large databases of geomorphic data or digital topographic models with geophysical inverse methods. At the small scale, I am improving our understanding of thermochronometric methods (temperature – time) to maximise the amount of information that constrains landscape evolution.

Susan Little
My research focusses on the role of the oceans in Earth's climate system. I am particularly interested in the importance of trace metals (including copper, zinc, cadmium) to ocean carbon cycling. Trace metals are micronutrients - they are essential for life in small quantities - but they can also be toxins at high, polluting, concentrations. I aim to develop the isotope systems of these metals as tracers of carbon cycling in the past and present ocean.

Philip Mannion
My research examines the macroevolutionary history of terrestrial vertebrates over the last 250 million years, combining ‘traditional’ comparative anatomical approaches, via the description of fossils (primarily sauropod dinosaurs and crocodiles), with the assembly and analysis of comprehensive, quantitative datasets. A significant theme of my research has focused on characterising the statistical relationships between deep time biodiversity and the geological biases that can obscure our understanding of macroevolutionary patterns. In particular, my research aims to understand how past climatic changes constrained the evolution and distribution of ancient biodiversity, with relevance to predicting the long-term responses of climatically-threatened living organisms.

Andrew Thomson
My research focusses on understanding deep Earth processes by using high pressure-temperature experiments to determine both geochemical and geophysical properties of mantle minerals. I perform experiments at extreme conditions (several gigapascals) using multi anvil and diamond anvil cell devices, often in combination with synchrotron x-rays or neutron diffraction to investigate geological processes occurring throughout the mantle.
My main interest is understanding the behaviour and influence that volatile species, mostly carbon and hydrogen, have throughout the mantle. Currently I am focused on the role that hydrogen plays in controlling mantle geodynamics, through investigating its affect on the strength of mantle phases.