Life past and present

We explore life and health through geological time, in the present and future: from pre-life molecules to extinct organisms to humans to extra-terrestrial bio-signatures.

We are a diverse and collaborative group of researchers who use a multitude of disciplines, sometimes from beyond the geosciences, to understand life: its origins, its progression, its challenges in modern times and how it may change with changing environments and emerging technologies.

We use geochemistry to investigate the origins of life, palaeontology to understand life and living conditions in past environments, isotope geochemistry to understand disease progression and plant nutrition, and geophysics and engineering to improve medical diagnostics.

Whether it’s reconstructing fossils, localising metals in cancers or scanning the brain, much of our research involves the analysis of complex datasets and images, which is becoming increasingly AI-assisted.

Through our research, we aim to:

  • Investigate optimal pathways for the translation of geophysical imaging technology to clinics.
  • Assess impact of air pollution on personal health in urban environments
  • Understand metal metabolism in healthy humans and during disease
  • Reveal essential and toxic metal transport and storage mechanisms in crops
  • Quantify the quality and completeness of the fossil record
  • Determine the evolutionary relationships and taxonomy of diverse fossil groups
  • Appreciate how life itself began by extrapolation of pre-life chemistry of chondrites
  • Recognise the origin of potential atmospheric biosignatures of other planetary bodies
  • ...and much more!

Associated events and seminars

You can see all previous and forthcoming seminars via the ESE Events and Seminars pages.

Associated members of staff