Key Research Interests

I am an isotope cosmochemist, and I am currently employed as an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University in Tempe.

I will start as an Assistant Professor in  the School of Earth and Space Exploration in August 2017, where I will oversee the Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) Facility. If you are a student or a postdoc and are interested in using mass spectrometry to study material from asteroids and comets, please email me at Currently, I have access to numerous pristine carbonaceous meteorites and material from an Asteroid Itokawa, and looking to hire graduate students to study them.

I investigate the properties of dust condensed in ancient stars and its evolution during Solar System formation. I perform coordinated isotopic, chemical and elemental characterization of stardust or presolar (i.e., material that predates the Solar System) dust grains identified in pristine, unaltered chondritic meteorites to gain an understanding of nucleosynthetic reactions in circumstellar environments and physical processes prevalent in specific stars. Conditions in the early solar system, and in parent bodies of carbonaceous meteorites are also gleaned from the study of these submicron-sized presolar grains.

My current interests also include:

  •  Isotopic and molecular information of organic matter in primitive chondritic meteorites and interplanetary dust particles
  • Hydrogen isotopes and water contents of minerals present in meteorites from Mars, Moon, Vesta, and small planetary bodies
  • Isotopic measurements of high-temperature, refractory minerals in meteorites, e.g., calcium aluminum-rich inclusions

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 stars (Red Giant and Asymptotic Giant Branch) and supernova/nova? How do the presolar grains in different extraterrestrial materials compare? How did the distribution of stellar dust grains evolve 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, and have they evolved as a result of secondary alteration processes (aqueous alteration, thermal metamorphism, shocks)? Are there links between the organic matter in comets, meteorites and Earth?
  • What is the primordial water content and composition? Can the isotopic data be used to trace transport of water over large distances in the pre-accretionary nebula? Did amino acids and other important biomarkers form in the parent bodies of small Planetary bodies, and if so, how?

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 (subpermil 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.

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