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Dr Louisa Preston

Dr Louisa Preston

Honorary Associate

The Open University Faculty of Science Department of Physical Sciences

Profile

I am a geologist by training and an astrobiologist by choice. I combine my two great passions through the study of the preservation of life within geological materials using infra-red spectroscopy. I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Imperial College London where i was first introduced to planetary science and the wonderful analytical tool that is spectroscopy. I joined The Open University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in 2011 having spent 2.5 years as a Research Fellow at The University of Western Ontario, Canada.

November 2011 - present: Research Associate - The Open University

CAFE - Concepts for Activities in the Field for Exploration

January 2011 - May 2011: Assistant Professor - The University of Western Ontario

Astronomy 2021b, The Search for Life in the Universe.

February 2009 - September 2011: CPSX Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Astrobiology - The University of Western Ontario.

Qualifications

2008: PhD - Imperial College London

‘A Multidisciplinary Study of Biomarkers in Hydrothermal Deposits: Applications to the Search for Life on Mars’

2005: MSci (Hons) Geology (Earth Resources) (First Class) - Imperial College London

MSci thesis: 'Olivine grains containing Fe-oxide grains: Micrometeorites or Meteorite Ablation products?’

Research Interests

My research interests lie within planetary science and, more specifically, planetary geology and astrobiology. My main work at present is the creation of a planetary analogue database, CAFE, to catalogue human exploration fieldsites on the Earth as analogues for the Moon and Mars. Outside of this catalogue my work focuses on the detection and identification of biomarkers within geological materials using Infra-red spectroscopy. I study the biomolecular and morphological evidence of life preserved within environments that are analogous to those observed, or proposed to have existed, on Mars. I am actively engaged in instrument development and testing for future planetary missions, and analogue mission simulations.

My research includes:

  • Investigations of the preservation of organics over 2.1 Ma within jarosite and goethite deposits of Rio Tinto, Spain to aid in identification of biomarkers within iron oxide and sulphate deposits on the Earth and Mars.
  • FTIR studies of organics within bioalteration tubules found in Ontong Java Plateau glass shards and Reis impact glasses.
  • FTIR studies of organics within recent lava flows from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland.
  • Spectral studies of organics within hydrothermal deposits at the Haughton Impact Structure, Canada.
  • The habitability of, and organic preservation in, cold seep precipitated jarosite on Earth and Mars.
  • Optical and spectral investigations of silica terrace samples from Yellowstone National Park and the Gunflint Chert.
  • Spectral analysis of fumarole deposits associated with a Precambrian proximal ejecta blanket at Stac Fada, Scotland.
  • FTIR effects of shock and thermal metamorphism in enstatite chondrite silicates, and terrestrial contamination of meteorites.
  • FTIR spectroscopy of biomolecules within carbonate speleothems in New Mexico.

Publications

Conference Item
Sánchez-Román, M.; Fernandez-Remolar, D.; Sanchez-Navas, N.; Romanek, N.; Schmid, T.; Nieto, F.; Oggerin, M.; Rodriguez, N.; Preston, L. ; Izawa, M. R.; Southam, G.; Banerjee, N.; Osinski, G.; Dyar, D.; Gomez-Ortiz, D.; Prieto-Ballesteros, O. and Amils, R. (2012). Carbonate precipitation in acidic environments, a potential biosignature for searching for life on Mars. In: Astrobiology Science Conference 2012: Exploring Life: Past, Present, Near and Far, 16 - 20 April 2012, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Preston, Louisa ; Barber, Simeon and Grady, Monica (2012). CAFE - a new on-line resource for planning scientific field investigations in planetary analogue environments. In: 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, 19-23 March 2012, The Woodlands, TX, US.
Preston, L. J. ; Barber, S. J. and Grady, M. M. (2012). Introducing a new on-line resource for planning scientific field investigations in planetary analogue environments: CAFE. In: Astrobiology Science Conference 2012: Exploring Life: Past, Present, Near and Far, April 16th - 20th 2012, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Osinski, G. R.; Preston, L. ; Ferrière, L.; Prave, T.; Parnell, J.; Singleton, A. and Pickersgill, A. E. (2011). The Stac Fada “impact ejecta” layer: not what it seems. In: 74th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, 8-12 August 2011, London, UK.
Preston, L. J. ; Osinski, G. R.; Banerjee, N. R.; Daly, M. ; Dietrich, P. ; Doucet, M.; Kerr, A.; Robert, M. ; Southam, G.; Spray, J. G.; Talbot, M.; Taylor, A. and Tremblay, M. (2011). TEMMI: a three-dimensional exploration multispectral microscopic imager for planetary exploration. In: GAC/ MAC - MAC/AMC - SEG - SGA Joint Annual Meeting: Navigating Past & Future Change, 25-27 May 2011, Ottawa, Canada.
Preston, L. J. ; Shuster, J.; Fernandez-Remolar, D.; Banerjee, N. R.; Osinski, G. R. and Southam, G. (2010). An infrared study of modern and paleo-filamentous bacteria from Rio Tinto, Spain. In: Goldschmidt Conference 2010, 13-18 June 2010, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Journal Article
Osinski, Gordon R.; Tornabene, Livio L.; Banerjee, Neil R.; Cockell, Charles S.; Flemming, Roberta; Izawa, Matthew R. M.; McCutcheon, Jenine; Parnell, John; Preston, Louisa J. ; Pickersgill, Annemarie E.; Pontefract, Alexandra; Sapers, Haley M. and Southam, Gordon (2013). Impact-generated hydrothermal systems on Earth and Mars. Icarus, 224(2), pp. 347–363.
Moores, John E.; Francis, Raymond; Mader, Marianne; Osinski, G. R.; Barfoot, T.; Barry, N.; Basic, G.; Battler, M.; Beauchamp, M.; Blain, S.; Bondy, M.; Capitan, R-D.; Chanou, A.; Clayton, J.; Cloutis, E.; Daly, M.; Dickinson, C.; Dong, H.; Flemming, R.; Furgale, P.; Gammel, J.; Gharfoor, N.; Hussein, M.; Grieve, R.; Henrys, H.; Jaziobedski, P.; Lambert, A.; Leung, K.; Marion, C.; McCullough, E.; McManus, C.; Neish, C. D.; Ng, H. K.; Ozaruk, A.; Pickersgill, A.; Preston, L. J. ; Redman, D.; Sapers, H.; Shankar, B.; Singleton, A.; Souders, K.; Stenning, B.; Stooke, P.; Sylvester, P. and Tornabene, L. (2012). A mission control architecture for robotic lunar sample return as field tested in an analogue deployment to the Sudbury impact structure. Advances in Space Research, 50(12), pp. 1666–1686.
Preston, Louisa J. (2012). Mission to Mars. The Biologist, 59(5), pp. 16–20.
Fernández-Remolar, David C.; Preston, Louisa J. ; Sánchez-Román, Mónica ; Izawa, Matthew R. M.; Huang, L.; Southam, Gordon; Banerjee, Neil R.; Osinski, Gordon R.; Flemming, Roberta; Gómez-Ortíz, David; Prieto Ballesteros, Olga; Rodríguez, Nuria; Amils, Ricardo and Dyar, M. Darby (2012). Carbonate precipitation under bulk acidic conditions as a potential biosignature for searching life on Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 351 pp. 13–26.
Antonenko, I.; Osinski, G. R.; Battler, M.; Beauchamp, M.; Cupelli, L.; Chanou, A.; Francis, R.; Mader, M. M.; Marion, C.; McCullough, E.; Pickersgill, A. E.; Preston, L. J. ; Shankar, B.; Unrau, T. and Veillette, D. (2012). Issues of geologically-focused situational awareness in robotic planetary missions: lessons from an analogue mission at Mistastin Lake impact structure, Labrador, Canada. Advances in Space Research, 52(2), pp. 272–284.
Battler, Melissa M.; Osinski, Gordon R.; Lim, Darlene S. S.; Davila, Alfonso F.; Michel, Frederick A.; Craig, Michael M.; Izawa, Matthew R. M.; Leoni, Lisa; Slater, Gregory F.; Fairen, Alberto G.; Preston, Louisa J. and Banerjee, Neil R. (2012). Characterization of the acidic cold seep emplaced jarositic Golden Deposit, NWT, Canada, as an analogue for jarosite deposition on Mars. Icarus, 224(2), pp. 382–398.
Preston, L. J. ; Izawa, M. R. M. and Banerjee, N. R. (2011). Infrared spectroscopic characterization of organic matter associated with microbial bioalteration textures in basaltic glass. Astrobiology, 11(7), pp. 585–599.
Preston, L. J. ; Shuster, J.; Fernandez-Remolar, D.; Banerjee, N. R.; Osinski, G. R. and Southam, G. (2011). The preservation and degradation of filamentous bacteria andbiomolecules within iron oxide deposits at Rio Tinto, Spain. Geobiology, 9(3), pp. 233–249.
Preston, Louisa J. and Genge, Matthew J. (2010). The Rhynie Chert, Scotland, and the search for life on Mars. Astrobiology, 10(5), pp. 549–560.
Preston, L. J. ; Benedix, G. K.; Genge, M. J. and Sephton, M. K. (2008). A multidisciplinary study of silica sinter deposits with applications to silica identification and detection of fossil life on Mars. Icarus, 198(2), pp. 331–350.

last updated 12-Jun-2012