Key Research Interests

I am an isotope cosmochemist, investigating the chemistry on rocky and icy surfaces of asteroids and comets to understand how they originated and processes prevalent in small planetary bodies. My team studies the fine particulate dust (< 100 micrometer) on and from small solar system bodies.

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. I oversee the NanoSIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer) funded by the National Science Foundation and ASU. I use the NanoSIMS to decipher the isotopic fingerprinting between the gas and solid states.

Google Citations:

If you are an early-career scientist and are interested in using mass spectrometry to study material from asteroids and comets, please email me at I am particularly looking for SESE and/or Barrett’s undergrads, who are interested in the Planetary Science.

My research interests include:

  •  Dust condensed in ancient stars and its evolution during Solar System formation
  • Volatiles (H, Li, B) in meteorites from Mars, Moon, Vesta, and small planetary bodies
  • Organic matter in primitive extraterrestrial materials, and possible connections to emergence to life

I am interested in answering a few scientific questions such as:

  • What are the isotopic, elemental, structural properties of dust that forms in different kinds of stars? How can these properties aid in constraining the nucleosynthetic reactions, kinetics, and physical, mixing processes occurring in ancient low mass stars (red giant and asymptotic giant branch) and supernova/nova explosions? How do the presolar grains in different extraterrestrial materials compare? How did the distribution of stellar dust grains alter as the protosolar nebula collapsed to form the Solar System?
  • What are the chemical, isotopic, and structural characteristics of organic materials in different extraterrestrial materials? How and where did these organic materials form? Did they evolve as a result of secondary alteration processes namely aqueous alteration, thermal metamorphism and shock events? Are there links between the organic matter in comets, meteorites and Earth?
  • What is the primordial water content and composition? Is there evidence of transport of water over large distances from the outer solar system to the inner solar system during the protoplanetary disk phase? Did this water aid in the formation of amino acids and other important biomarkers in the parent bodies of small planetary bodies?

To summarize, below is the schematic that shows my vision for Planetary Science research. The flowchart depicts the formation of dust in stars, followed by the collapse of the molecular cloud with the stellar ejecta to form initially a protoplanetary disk, and finally the planets and other small planetary bodies. I study the components (in blue) in the laboratory to understand the underlying processes (in orange).

What were the important processes that aided and guided the formation of our Solar System?

 My expertise is in using Nano-scale Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to acquire isotopic data at small spatial scales (<100nm) and greater precision (sub-permil precision for O, Li, B, C, S). I use the NanoSIMS to probe extraterrestrial materials to understand cosmochemical histories of small planetary bodies and planets.

SIMS/NanoSIMS website:

Pictures of my wet chemistry and clean laboratory in the Physical Sciences D-Wing Basement (adjacent to the NanoSIMS lab) are below: