Jordan – profile
Role: First year PhD student, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London
Subject area: Astrobiology - Searching for life on Mars
I am a PhD student in the Earth Science and Engineering Department at Imperial. I have a background in biology and environmental conservation, but my passions have led me on an exciting route to the universe of astrobiology!
Interview with Jordan
Hear from Jordan, who is using Mars rover data to look for ancient life on Mars and how his interests lead him to work in astrobiology.
GCSE (or equivalent): Spanish, Graphic Products, Fine Art, Geography, Religious Studies, Maths, Core and Additional Science, English Literature, English Language
A-Level (or equivalent): Biology, Geography, Spanish
• BSc Zoology, Aberystwyth University
• MRes Environmental Geoscience, Newcastle University
• PhD in Organic Geochemistry (ongoing), Imperial College London
Detail about Jordan
Recently, the Mars rovers have found some molecules that we thought only living things could produce. As someone with a background in biology, I am part of a team of scientists who are investigating whether these molecules were made by alien life on Mars or by new, mysterious chemical reactions that we haven't seen before. It's like being a space detective!
As a biologist and conservationist, I became fascinated by the big questions: How did life begin? Where else is it in the universe? Can we spread life to other planets? Astrobiology, a field that combines biology with space, is the key to answering them.
Who is your STEM hero?
Betul Kaçar, a Turkish-born astrobiology professor at the University of Wisconsin in the USA. She went from being the first woman in her family to do a degree, to being the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Research Centre. I learned of her from her creative research ideas like studying extinct microorganisms by reawakening them in the present day by reading their DNA.
Most significant discovery/invention?
The smallpox vaccine. Smallpox had killed more than 300 million people but by giving the vaccine to enough people we have totally eradicate this dreadful disease from the face of the Earth. This incredible feat also demonstrated humanity’s potential to work together.
Career options after study
- Astronaut for a mission to Mars
- Scientific illustrator
- Director of a robotic space mission
- Lecturer or teacher
I live in a narrowboat on the canals of London with my partner. Our boat is smaller than a lorry and boasts a cool stone gargoyle on the front and a pirate flag on top, making it truly one-of-a-kind.
Jordan talks about his research
Jordan talks about his research looking at molecules found on Mars to see if they could have been produced from alien life or new unknown chemical reactions.