My research involves understanding the impact history of the Earth-Moon system. I study the geochemical and chronological information obtained from lunar impact glasses in order to understand how many impact events the lunar surface has suffered. This information can then be applied to understanding the conditions required for life on Earth and how impact events may have affected its origin and evolution. A 2017 review article on this topic can be found here.

I recently presented my work at the 2019 NASA Exploration Science Forum, and an image from my research was on the cover of the November 2019 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. You can read the article here.

I’m also interested in understanding how biomolecules are transferred among planetary bodies, such as via comet or asteroid impacts, and how their chemistry may change in an impact event.

I have been affiliated with the New York Center for Astrobiology, a NASA Astrobiology Institute, with research funding from the American Astronomical Society and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.  My lunar research is currently supported by NASA and the NSF, and my impact research is supported by NASA.  Both projects have additionally been supported by Albion College faculty development funds.

During Fall 2011, I did research at the Australian National University in Canberra, studying lunar samples with Dr. Marc Norman.

In the News

November 16, 2020, Science, Famed meteorite reveals early water on Mars—and an early outer space bombardment
January 21, 2020, Science, Cataclysmic bashing from giant planets occurred early in our Solar System’s history
January 23, 2019, Albion College Pleiad, Lunar Glass Research
February 23, 2018, Albion College News: Research is Telling a New Story of Earth’s Early Days
January 24, 2018, Nature: Bashing holes in the tale of Earth’s troubled youth
January 23, 2018, Quanta Magazine, Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start
August 21, 2017, Albion College News: Hundreds Gather on Campus to Watch Solar Eclipse
August 17, 2017: Jackson Citizen Patriot: Viewing event for 2017 solar eclipse planned at Albion College
January 12, 2016, Albion College News: Always Looking
September 26, 2012, Battle Creek Enquirer: Out of this World…Asks Why
November 23, 2011, WAMC Northeast Public Radio: The Best of Our Knowledge interview (Part 2)
November 16, 2011, WAMC Northeast Public Radio: The Best of Our Knowledge interview (Part 1)
January 25, 2011, Battle Creek Enquirer: Seeking life’s origins at Albion College
January 24, 2011, Jackson Citizen Patriot: Albion College professors receive grant
December 2, 2010, Battle Creek Enquirer: In space, no one can hear you lecture
January, 2002, RPI Origin of Life News Notes: Ambassador to the Stars
October 19, 1999: Daily Gazette (Schenectady): Looking Outward: RPI grad student will study moon dust*
October 19, 1999: Daily Gazette (Schenectady): Zellner Receives Zonta Fellowship

* Please note that there are a few errors in this report!

CV (abridged)