Helen's research interests focus on determining the thermoelastic properties and crystal chemistry of a range of minerals which are of interest in a variety of environmental, planetary geology and industrial settings.
Helen is a Planetary Geologist by training. She was awarded a PhD from the Earth Sciences department of University College London for investigations of the thermo-elastic properties of highly-hydrated sulphate minerals with relevance to geological processes within the Galilean satellites of Jupiter. Following this, she took up an OCE Postdoc position at CSIRO Process Science and Engineering, jointly co-funded by the former Bragg Institute, ANSTO.
The aim of the project to investigate the formation mechanisms of Jarosite minerals. On Earth, jarosites are an important mineral to a range of industries. However, jarosites are also an important key to unlocking role of water in the geological history of Mars.
Since joining the Australian Synchrotron she has extended this study to encompass the behaviour of these minerals within the context of the Martian crust and surface. To explore the properties of these materials Helen uses a suite of both experimental (in situ diffraction and small-angle scattering), and theoretical (ab initio density-functional theory) techniques to cover a range of temperatures and pressures. These crystal chemistry and thermoelastic properties can then be used as the inputs for geological models, both small scale within-crust and large-scale, whole planetary evolution models.