Key Research Interests

I am an isotope cosmochemist, investigating the chemistry of asteroids and comets to understand how they originated and processes prevalent in small planetary bodies.

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. I oversee the NanoSIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer) funded by the National Science Foundation and ASU. If you are a student (undergraduate or graduate) and are interested in using mass spectrometry to study material from asteroids and comets, please email me at

My research interests include:

  •  Dust condensed in ancient stars and its evolution during Solar System formation
  • Organic matter in primitive extraterrestrial materials, and possible connections to emergence to life
  • Volatiles (H, Li, B) in meteorites from Mars, Moon, Vesta, and small planetary bodies
  • High-temperature, refractory minerals in meteorites, e.g., calcium aluminum-rich inclusions & chondrules

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.

Google Citations: