Imperial College London

Dr Randall S. Perry

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering




r.perry Website CV




Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Dr Perry is part of the Impacts and Astromaterials Research Centre at Imperial College London.

SCIENTIFIC AREAS OF INTEREST: Astrobiology/Exobiology. Education in space and engineering science. Ethics in science and medicine. Medical geology. Philosophy and psychology of language. Psychology of science. Microbial and mineral interface.  Organomineralization and biomineralization, and dissolution and redeposition of minerals. Interactions of DNA, amino acids and polysaccharides with minerals, particularly silica. Amino acids in meteorites. Preservation of microbes and “prebiotic chemicals” in minerals and their detection in ancient earth environments and hydrothermal deposits. Understanding the mechanisms of formation of rock coatings. Life in extreme environments. Prebiotic and biotic chemical evolution. Evolution and chemical composition of planets and planetary bodies. Biology and knowledge. Organic signatures of the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction boundary. Definition of life. Tropical diseases and parasitology. Chemistry of organic compounds and pigments in paintings.

Dr Randall Perry is the founder and honorary chair of the Space Science & Engineering Foundation (SSEF), a UK charity set up to promote younger students’ interest in engineering and science in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Regional competitions are held throughout the UK, Europe, the ME and Africa. National finals are held to determine what 12 students from each of the four areas will attend the international finals at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The UK finals is held at Imperial College London. Regional competitions host thousands of students. In addition, video entries allow students unable to attend a regional challenge to take part in national finals. Imperial College's Department of Earth Science and Engineering hosts a UK regional competition each fall as well as the UK national finals each March. Approximately 260 students participate in the national finals and, from among these, 12 are selected to go to Kennedy Space Center for the international finals. A corresponding challenge for Europe, the Middle East and Africa also sends 12 students to the international finals. Many of the alumni of these events support current participants through volunteer activities.  Partly because of their experience with the design competitions, most of these alumni are now attending universities throughout the world, including Imperial College London.

The SSEF also hosts Galactic Challenges throughout the UK for pupils aged 10 to 14 years. These are day events run in conjunction with public and private schools.

Dr Perry is also the founder of YES (Youth Exploring Science) science, a UK charity that host challenges similar to the Space Design Competitions but based on environmental issues. The Environmental Design Challenge is for senior students age 15 - 18 years old and the Eco meet is for students 9 - 14 years old. From the challenges, 50 students are selected to plan and host the Youth Climate Conference at Imperial College London each summer.

The competition has close ties with and is partially supported by the UK Space Agency and Dangoor Education.   

Besides having spoken professionally on science, Dr Perry has also given a talk on art and science at Chelsea Arts Club and on the definition of life at Durham Advanced Institute. Randall S Perry is a member of the Writers Guild of America West in Los Angeles and on IMDb. He has written six novels under RS Perry ( and has done a documentary film, Beau Dick Presently, he is working on a feature film called Space Games. Dr Perry is the author of numerous publications on subjects ranging from science and linguistics to art.  He has given talks worldwide about the Space Competition and has written a chapter with Dr Catherine Fosnot on the Psychology of Learning. He is the editor of a book about the UK Space Design Competition in which Dr Fosnot has written a chapter. He enjoys art and painting.  Before returning to the University of Washington to finish a doctorate in Astrobiology in 2004, he had been a company director and president of a business for twenty years. Dr Perry has been a Royal Society fellow at Imperial College London and has held a US International fellowship at Oxford, England. He has won numerous awards and, in 2013, was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He was a company director and producer with two media companies. He is currently the chair of the Space Science Engineering Foundation (SSEF), an educational charity set up to support the UK Space Settlement Design Competition. Dr Perry is also an adventurer. An explorer of high mountains and deep oceans, he has crossed the Atlantic by sailboat, dived to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in Alvin, climbed high mountains, and held pilot licenses in helicopters and in fixed-wing multi-engine  aircraft. He currently splits his time between London, Michigan, and Malta.

See more at:



Perry RS, Sephton MA, 2009, Reply to comments on defining biominerals and organominerals: Direct and indirect indicators of life [Perry et al., Sedimentary Geology, 201, 157-179], Sed Geol, Vol:213, ISSN:0037-0738, Pages:156-156

McLoughlin N, Brasier MD, Wacey D, et al., 2007, On biogenicity criteria for endolithic microborings on early earth and beyond, Astrobiology, Vol:7, ISSN:1531-1074, Pages:10-26

Perry RS, McLoughlin N, Lynne BY, et al., 2007, Defining biominerals and organominerals: direct and indirect indicators of life?, 2007, Sedimentary Geology 201, 157-179, Sedimentary Geology, Vol:201, Pages:157-169


Engel MH, Perry RS, 2008, The origins of amino acids in ancient terrestrial and extraterrestrial materials, Conference on Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI, SPIE-INT SOC OPTICAL ENGINEERING, ISSN:0277-786X

Jiao D, Perry RS, Engel MH, et al., 2008, Biomarker indicators of bacterial activity and organic fluxes during end Triassic mass extinction event (art. no. 709709), Conference on Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI, The International Society for Optical Engineering, Pages:1-12

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