The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL / Birkbeck

Prof David Price

Prof David Price

Professor of Mineral Physics

Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation and Global Engagement)

President and Provost

Joined UCL
1st Sep 1983

Research summary

David Price's early work (1979-1984) was in the field of crystallography and mineralogy. This work created the foundation of his interest in the mineralogy of the deep Earth, and the factors which determine crystal structures. Three notable studies included:

(i) The use of the transmission electron microscope to identify the spinel and beta-phase polymorphs of Mg2SiO4 in shocked meteorites, and the determination of the high strain rate mechanisms of the olivine to spinel, and spinel to beta-phase transformations. This work i ncluded the description of the first natural occurrence of beta-Mg2SiO4, which he named wadsleyite, and which is  the major constituent of the upper part (400km to 550km depth) of t he transition zone of the Earth’s mantle.

 (ii) The determination of the crystal structure of the as-synthesised silicalite (the pure Si analogue of the zeolite ZSM-5, which is the catalyst that underpins the multimillion-pound petroleum refinement industry).

(iii) The spinel and beta-phase polymorphs of Mg2SiO4 are “spinelloids”, and are polytypes (structures made of the same “modules” but stacked in differing ways), as are the zeolites ZSM-5 and ZSM-11. In an attempt to establish the factors that determined the relative stabilities of polytypic stacking arrangements, Price developed a model of polytypism (and polysomatism) based on the ANNNI and related Ising spin models.

These crystallographic studies led him to use and develop atomistic simulations to study the energetics and stability of major Earth-forming minerals (1984-1992). In 1993, Price and Renata Wentzcovitch were the first to use quantum mechanical molecular dynamics methods to study mantle-forming phases, and this led to the first applications of this method to the study of the high P/T elastic and seismic properties of silicates, and which more recently enable his group to reconcile the previously seismically enigmatic D” zone at the base of the mantle (depth ~2600km to 2880km) with the properties of the recently discovered post-perovskite phase. In 1999, Price (working with Dario Alfe, Mike Gillan and Lidunka Vocadlo) extended the application of quantum mechanical molecular dynamics methods to the study of the high pressure melting of iron and its alloys, and to the study of the properties of liquid iron under conditions relevant to the Earth’s core.

Since 2009, he has shifted the focus of his research, and today he works with Prof Marcelle BouDagher-Fadel on the phylogentic and paleogeographic evolution of foraminifera.

Teaching summary

David Price has teaching expertise in mineralogy, metamorphic petrology, mineral physics and solid Earth geophysics.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1981
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Arts | 1981
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1977


G. David PRICE is Vice-Provost (Research) at UCL, and was formerly Executive Dean of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Faculty and Professor of Mineral Physics in the Dept of Earth Sciences. David has an undergraduate degree and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He was a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar and Research  Associate at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow at Clare College Cambridge, before coming to UCL in 1983 as a Royal Society University Research Fellow.

He was one of the first to establish the now major field of computational mineral physics, and has over 290 publications. He was awarded the Schlumberger Medal of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain in 1999; the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London in 2002; and in 2006 he was awarded the Louis Néel Medal of the European Geosciences Union for “establishing the importance of computational mineral physics in Earth sciences and for outstanding contributions to the physics of the Earth's core". He is a Member of the Academia Europaea  and an Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and of the Mineralogical Society of America. He has been an editor of “Earth and Planetary Science Letters” (2005-8); President of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2004-6); and was a member of the UK’s HEFCE RAE2008 sub-panel on Earth and Environmental Sciences. Also, he was the chair the HEFCE REF2014 sub-panel on Earth and Environmental Sciences, was a non-executive director of the North Middlesex University Hospital, Chair of the HEFCE UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics, Chair of Governors of the UCLAcademy School, and a Council Member of the STFC.

He currently is Chair of the LERU Committee of Vice-Rectors of Research, and Chair of Panel B for the UK REF 2021.