Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Royal Society Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 6473z.martins Website




2.48Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus






  • Royal Society University Research Fellow, Imperial College London (UK), 2009-present
  • Invited Professor, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France), 2012
  • Associate Researcher, Imperial College London (UK), 2007-2009
  • Visiting Scientist, NASA Goddard (USA), 2005, 2006
  • PhD, Astrobiology, Leiden University (The Netherlands), 2003-2007
  • MSc, Chemistry, Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal), 1997-2002

I was appointed Officer of the Order of Saint James of the Sword (Oficial da Ordem Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada, OSE) by the President of Portugal for exceptional and outstanding merits in science. This is the Portuguese equivalent of an OBE.

The Order Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada is one of the oldest Military orders in Portugal (was founded in 1172).

Official photos of Zita Martins being awarded the collar of the Order of Saint James of the Sword by the President of Portugal [1, 2].  Photo credit Página Oficial da Presidência da República Portuguesa.

The Commemorative ceremony for the bestowal of the decorations on the media:

Tvi24 (min 00:50), Economico, Expresso, Publico, Sol, Radio Renascenca, Jn.

Media and Public Outreach

I was selected as one of the BBC's Expert Women.

I had the honour to have my portrait sketched for the Royal Society exhibit about women in science (Summer 2013).

I was voted as one of the "Personality of the year 2013" in Portugal by newspaper P3 (Jornal Público).

I was selected as one of "11 Portuguese out of time" by Jornal Público (March 2015).

I was selected as one of "100 Women in Science" by the Portuguese Agency of Science and Technology (March 2016).

I am a scientific adviser on the Intergalactic Travel Bureau Show by Guerilla Science (March 2017).

My work has appeared on:


Design the Future (March 2017)

Sociedade Civil (RTP2) (March 2017)

Microbiology Society youTube (September 2016)

Agora Nós (RTP1) (min. 13:30, February 2016)

ITV News (December 2015) 

SkyNews (December 2015) 

BBC News (December 2015)

Pagina 2 (RTP2) (November 2015)

The Sky at Night (BBC4) (min 28:40, November 2014)

Horizon Documentary (BBC2) (November 2013)

Jornal Nacional da TV Globo (Brazil) (September 2013)

Royal Society YouTube (April 2013)

Sky News Sunrise (February 2013)

Wonder House (February 2012)

Seven wonders of the Microbe World (November 2011)

Portugueses sem Fronteiras (RTP2) (min 8:53, May 2011)

France24 (December 2010)

Bang Goes the Theory (BBC One) (May 2010)

The Cell (BBC Four) (Ep. 3 Min 33:30, January 2010)

Ciência Viva TV (Portugal) (April 2009)

Programa Bairro Alto (RTP2) (April 2009)

4 x Ciência (RTPN) (January 2009)

Channel 4 News (June 2008)

NTV Broadcasting company (Russian TV) (June 2008)

Euronews (June 2008)

Mexican TV (2008)



BBC Radio 4 show "Silicon - The World's Building Block" (min. 22:50) (May 2017)

90 segundos de Ciência (November 2016)

BBC Radio4 show “Inside Science” (September 2016)

Royal Society Podcast (September 2016)

BBC Radio 5 live (December 2015)

Science Weekly (The Guardian) (July 2014)

Australian Broadcasting Company - ABC (September 2013)

R.Science podcast (Royal Society) (March 2012)

Science Weekly (The Guardian) (October 2011)

Science Weekly (The Guardian) (December 2010)

Pessoal... e Transmissível (TSF) (May 2009)

Leading Edge (BBC Radio 4) (June 2008)

Science Update (AAAS Radio) (June 2008)


Newspapers and magazines

Expresso (Portuguese) (April 2016) 

Notícias Magazine (Portuguese) (December 2015)

The Scientific 23 (February 2015)

Jornal i e Ciência Viva (February 2015)

Tap Up Magazine (November 2014)

The Guardian (September 2013) 

Time Magazine (September 2013)

Wired (September 2013)

SkyNews (September 2013) 

Jornal Público (Portuguese) (September 2013) 

Jornal Expresso (Portuguese) (September 2013)

New Scientist (September 2013)

Discovery News (September 2013)

Fox News (September 2013)

NBC News (September 2013)

The Times (September 2013)

The Independent (September 2013)

Financial Times (September 2013)

LA Times (September 2013)

Phys.Org (September 2013) 

Science Daily (September 2013)

The Scotsman (September 2013)

Herald Sun Australia (September 2013)

Daily Mail (September 2013)

Diário de Noticias (Portuguese) (September 2013)

tvi24 (Portuguese) (September 2013)

Jornal de Noticias (Portuguese) (September 2013)

Europa Press (Spanish) (September 2013)

El Economista (Spanish) (September 2013)

Vesti (Russian) (September 2013)

Welt der Physik (German) (September 2013)

Sina (Chinese) (September 2013)

Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) (Serbian) (September 2013)

Galileo (Italian) (September 2013)

Scientias (Dutch) (September 2013)

Science World Report (September 2013)

Science News (September 2013)

Nature World News (September 2013)

Top News New Zealand (September 2013)

The Times of India (September 2013)

The Telegraph (August 2013)

The Guardian (July 2013)

Visão (Portuguese) (July 2013)

P3 (Jornal Público) (April 2013)

Journal i (Portuguese) (August 2012)

NatureJobs (April 2012)

Wired (March 2012)

Londonist (February 2012)

Pública (Jornal Público) (page 63, July 2011)

SuperInteressante (Portuguese) (June 2011)

Sky at Night (May 2011)

The Sunday Times magazine (November 2010)

Público (Portuguese) (June 2010)

Stylist (May 2010)

The Guardian (January 2010)

Jornal i (Portuguese) (July 2009, May 2011)

Up - TAP Magazine (Portuguese) (April 2009)

Discover magazine (Top 100 Stories of 2008)

 Oje (Portuguese) (Page 8, September 2008)

ScienceNOW (June 2008)

National Geographic News (June 2008)

Scientific American (June 2008)

The Independent (June 2008)

The Telegraph (June 2008)

Diário de Notícias (Portuguese) (April 2008, July 2008)


Public talks, Festivals, and Schools

Costa Blanca Astronomical Society (May 2017)

TEDxPorto (April 2017)

Rómulo de Carvalho (March 2017)

Scientific adviser on the Intergalactic Travel Bureau show with the the support of the UK Space Agency and the Wellcome Trust (March 2017)

William Perkin (January 2017)

Cutting Edge Classrooms CPD (teachers from both primary and secondary level ), Royal Society (November 2016)

New Scientist Live (September 2016)

Café Scientifique, Royal Society (July 2016)

Imperial Festival (May 2016) 

Royal Society Belfast Science Cafe (April 2016)

Imperial College Children's Christmas lecture (December 2015)

2.ª Conferência de Professores EspAciais - ESERO PT (November 2015)

Cheltenham Science Festival (June 2015)

Pint of Science (May 2015)

Planetário do Porto (March 2015)

Reach Out CPD (support primary school teachers) (November 2014)

Edinburgh Science Festival, with Adam Rutherford and Richard Wiseman (April 2014

All-Russia Science Festival (October 2013)

Hay Festival (May 2013)

National Science & Engineering week (March 2013)

Nature Live at the NHM (November 2012)

European Researchers’ Night at the NHM (September 2012)

AstroCamp2012 (August 2012)

Friends of Imperial College lecture (March 2012)

Café Scientifique at the Royal Society (February 2012)

Wellcome Trust (December 2011)

European Researchers’ Night at the NHM (September 2011)

Ewell Astronomical Society (September 2011)

Big Bang Fair (Big Bang Balloon Debate) (March 2011)

Sci-Fi London (Panel discussion at the ROG) (October 2010)

Slideshow for a temporary exhibition at the ROG (May to September 2010)

Nature Live at the NHM (April 2010)


Follow me on Twitter @ZitaMartins

Research Interests

  • Astrobiology
  • Meteorites, comets and extraterrestrial organic matter
  • Detection of biosignatures in space missions
  • Cosmochemistry
  • Prebiotic chemistry

Invited Lectures and Presentation

Summer school “Impacts and their role in the evolution of life”, Estonia, 2017

JpGu-AGU, Japan, 2017

Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics (AOPP) seminar, University of Oxford, UK, 2017

7th PhD Meeting at Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier (ITQB), Portugal, 2016

University of St Andrews, UK, 2016

PhD school of astrophysics “Francesco Lucchin”, Italy, 2016

EU-Framework 7 Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action TD1308 - ORIGINS meeting, Lithuania, 2016

CECAM workshop “Atomistic simulations in prebiotic chemistry – a dialog between experiment and theory”, France, 2016

Société Française d'Astronomie et d'Astrophysique (Sf2A) workshop on “Apports exogènes et origine de la vie”, France, 2016

i3S Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Portugal, 2016

Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade do Porto, Portugal, 2015

XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), USA, 2015

GABBA Symposium, Portugal, 2015

UK Space Conference, UK, 2015

Astrobiology Workshop, ASIAA, Taiwan, 2015

Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, Portugal, 2015

Astrobiology Workshop 'Building Habitable Worlds', UK, 2015

American Chemical Society (ACS) Conference, USA, 2014

UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life, UK, 2014

Fermor Meeting of the Geological Society, UK, 2014

XVII Encontro Nacional de Estudantes de Biologia, Portugal, 2014

Canadian Astrobiology Training Program (CATP), Canada, 2014

Natural History Museum (NHM), UK, 2013

 Instituto Superior Técnico/Universidade de Lisboa (IST/UTL), Portugal, 2013

4th MarcoPolo-R Symposium, Barcelona, Spain, 2013

Workshop on "Cosmochemistry of primitive bodies: the need for MarcoPolo-R - a European sample return space mission", Paris, France, 2012

University of Birmingham, UK, 2012

Imperial College London, UK, 2012

Institut de Ciències de l'Espai, UAB, Spain, 2012

Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, France, 2012

Instituto Superior Tecnico/Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal, 2012

XIII Jornadas de Biologia Aplicada, Portugal, 2012 (Plenary talk)

URF Research Conference, UK, 2012 (Plenary talk)

Origin of Life Gordon Research Conference, USA, 2012

 STFC Summer School in Astrobiology, UK, 2011

 University of Bern, Switzerland, 2011

 XIV Encontro Nacional de Estudantes de Biologia, Portugal, 2011

 COSPAR Conference, Bremen, Germany, 2010

 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA, 2005

 Instituto Superior Técnico/Universidade de Lisboa (IST/UL), Lisbon, Portugal, 2004

Other Significant Activities

Session convener, Goldschmidt conference (2017)

Session convener, Goldschmidt conference (2016)

Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC), ASB6 conference (2015)

Session Convener, AbSciCon conference (2015)

Session Convener, EGU conference (2015)

Session Convener, Goldschmidt conference (2014)

Co-Chair of the organising committee, UK-Brazil-Chile Frontiers of Science (2014)

Co-organizer, Event Portugal and the Royal Society: Past, Present and Future (2013)

Session Convener, AbSciCon conference (2012)

Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC), MetSoc conference (2011)

Session Convener, EPSC-DPS conference (2011)

Session Convener, EPSC conference (2010)

Session Convener, Goldschmidt Conference (2009)

    Selected Publications

    Journal Articles

    Martins Z, Botta O, Fogel ML, et al., 2008, Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol:270, ISSN:0012-821X, Pages:130-136

    Martins Z, Price MC, Goldman N, et al., 2013, Shock synthesis of amino acids from impacting cometary and icy planet surface analogues, Nature Geoscience, Vol:6, ISSN:1752-0894, Pages:1045-1049

    More Publications