Dr. Nicole Nevill
Dr. Nicole Nevill is an astrogeologist, astrobiologist, and cosmochemist, who uses the petrology, structural geology, chemistry, mineralogy, and spectroscopy of meteorites to understand the early evolution of planetary systems. Dr. Nevill obtained her Ph.D. at Curtin University, Bentley Campus, Australia. Her research focused on developing new approaches and custom methods with established and novel techniques for studying the smallest and rarest astromaterials available for laboratory studies and applying them, improving spatial resolutions, and gaining access to signatures not previously attainable. For example, quantitative measurements of trace elements in presolar grains using atom probe tomography are the most sensitive geochemical traces of environmental changes within mineral phases. Dr. Nevill studied O-rich presolar grains and organic materials (nanoglobules-spherical organic assemblages) within meteorites and both inorganic and organic (soluble organic matter and insoluble organic matter — complex assemblage of organic molecules similar to kerogen) materials from interplanetary dust particles. Throughout her prior research, she used variable combinations of 11 complementary techniques, including optical and fluorescent microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy (TEM-EELS), synchrotron radiation x-ray fluorescence elemental mapping, micrometer two-step laser mass spectrometer (μL2MS), electron microprobe (EMPA), nanoSIMS (nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry), focus ion beam (FIB), and atom probe tomography (APT). Technical and methodological approaches were applied to help improve our understanding of abiotic evolution, stellar evolution, evolution of primitive cosmic inorganic and organic grains, including interactions on the parent body, and the evolution of our solar system, particularly the role of physical and chemical processing throughout the nebula. This included measurements of chemical and isotopic compositions, crystal structures, and petrographical relationships with surrounding phases when embedded within meteoritic materials.
Previously, Dr. Nevill investigated early solar nebula evolution through studies of high refractory inclusions in primitive meteorites during her honors year. She won the VSSEC (Victorian Space Science Education Centre) NASA Space Prize for the top planetary science honors in Australia under the geology category for a compositional and petrographic study of organic molecules in meteorites during her time as a Lunar and Planetary institute (LPI) intern (June–August 2017). Her research in the LPI internship formed the basis of the collaborative organic molecular research project in meteorites executed throughout her Ph.D. She also has a passion for and has been actively involved in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) outreach.
Dr. Nevill is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division of NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). She has a passion for multi-technical and multidisciplinary approaches to decode the evolutionary history of planetary systems through detailed mineralogical and petrographical characterization of meteorites, interplanetary dust particles, and sample return mission samples. In her current role, she is focusing on presolar silicate grains using some of the research capabilities developed throughout her Ph.D., investigating their geochemical compositions, and crystallographic and structural relationships at the atomic level. She is also investigating the molecular and isotopic compositions of organic matter in Hayabusa2 samples and studying silicates in interplanetary dust particles.