High Temperature Isotope Geochemistry LaboratoryAntonio Simonetti


Sam Hulett- Sam began his PhD research work in the summer of 2013. Sam's research is focused on using a range of stable isotopes (C, O, S, and for the first time, B) in carbonatites and associated alkaline rocks from multiple regions worldwide. This work will represent the first complete look at the overall volatile content of carbonatite rocks. Sam's work will be integrated with major and trace element data as well as other isotope measurements (Nd, Sr, Pb) in order to gain a more complete picture of carbonatites, their mantle sources, and their connections with global geochemical cycles.
Elizabeth Koeman- Elizabeth began her PhD thesis work in the summer of 2011 and will focus on method development required for the separation of different mineral and glass phases from trinitite, and the in-situ chemical and isotopic analysis of these materials. Her research work will help create a substantial database of chemical and isotopic analyses for trinitite material from the Trinity explosion, which will be of scholarly interest since it will help to understand the extreme conditions, and their evolution in a nuclear blast. Elizabeth's work will also help establish a scientific workforce with a knowledge in the field of nuclear forensics.
  Paul Hurley-
Zachary Torrano- Zack is an Environmental Geosciences major in the class of 2015 who began working in the Simonetti research group in June 2013. His current research work includes optical and chemical analysis of trinitite through the use of petrographic microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. 


Patrick Donohue, PhD (University of Notre Dame) - Patrick is a recent doctorate of Notre Dame, where he worked on tracing melt evolution through textural and mineral LA-ICP-MS analyses to document the origin and evolution of high-titanium mare basalts. He is now researching the chemical and isotopic signature of trinitite material. web page



Wei Chen- Wei began her PhD graduate research work in August 2010 and completed her work in June 2014. The main objective of Wei's PhD research work was to conduct a first-time, multi-faceted approach involving in-situ chemical (major and trace element) and isotopic (C, O, Sr, Nd, Pb) characterization of the dominant minerals (apatite, calcite) at the micron scale in carbonatites and associated alkaline Si-undersaturated rocks from the Oka carbonatite complex using a vast array of microanalytical techniques. She also conducted an extensive U-Pb dating investigation of the Oka complex via the analysis of several accessory minerals (e.g., apatite and perovskite) present within the alkaline rocks at Oka, along with a detailed investigation of melt inclusions within magnetite. In July 2014, Wei began her tenure as an associate professor at the China University Department of Geosciences in Wuhan, China.

Nick Civetta, B.S. Civil Engineering- Nick earned his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering in the spring (2011). Despite his main love of engineering, he nonetheless expressed a wish to conduct research in our ICP-MS facility. He worked as a research assistant in the ICP-MS facilty between Sept. 2009 and May 2011. He also conducted research work on the in-situ U-Pb dating and chemical characterization of zircon megacrysts from South African kimberlite deposits by laser ablation-ICP-MS analysis. Nick completed his MSc in May 2012 at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now playing professional rugby in Lazio, Italy.

Megan Dustin- Megan is a senior Environmental Geosciences major working on optical and chemical analysis of trinitite samples. In addition, she is also researching thermodynamic properties of the uranyl vanadate minerals with the Burns group. In the summer of 2013, she also participated in the Nuclear Chemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Megan began her doctoral work at Stanford University, under the supervision of Prof. Rod Ewing, in August 2014.
Mary Kate Fidler, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Mary Kate worked in the ICP-MS facility as an undergraduate research assistant for several years. During the summer of 2011, she began her research work on several samples of trinitite, which included their petrographic and mineralogic characterization, and this was followed by SEM, TEM and in-situ laser ablation analyses. In August 2012, Mary began her PhD graduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Tim Hainley, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Tim conducted undergraduate research in the Simonetti research group from May 2012 to May 2013. Tim worked primarily on the investigation of Trinitite, specifically looking at areas of alpha activity and the chemical composition of the nuclear debris. In addition to the Trinitite research, Tim conducted major element analyses (using an ICP-OES), and elemental (ICP-MS) and Sr isotopic analyses (MC-ICP-MS) of groundwater samples from the coastal region of Benin, Africa. Tim is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Malawi.
Allan Jones, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Allan worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the ICP-MS facility. In the Spring 2011 semester, he began an undergraduate research thesis focused on investigating the Sr and Pb isotopic nature and trace element signatures of feldspar phenocrysts at high spatial resolution within phonolitic lavas associated with several alkaline complexes of the Barmer area, west-central India. In August 2012, Allan began his PhD graduate work at the University of Texas (Austin).
Maddie Smierciak, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Maddie worked as an undergraduate research assistant between May and December 2012. She assisted in trinitite research through surficial and elemental SEM work and oxygen isotope analysis by laser fluorination. Maddie's work helped contribute to the field of post-detonation nuclear forensics. Subsequent graduation, Maddie obtained employment in the private sector.
Frederico Vilvalva (Departamento de Mineralogia e Geotectônica do Instituto de Geociências da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) - Frederico was a visiting PhD student in our department between February and August 2011. Frederico's PhD research focuses primarily on the U-Pb, Lu-Hf, Pb-Pb, and Sr isotopic investigation of granites from the Morro Redondo Complex, Brazil, along with some key samples from other occurrences within the Graciosa A-type Province for comparative purposes. Frederico successfully defended his PhD thesis in the summer of 2012. In April 2013, Frederico accepted a faculty position within the Geology Department at the Federal University Do Rio Grande Do Norte (Natal, Brazil).
Christine Wallace- Christine Wallace began her graduate work with Dr. Peter C. Burns in 2009, studying the aqueous chemistry of uranium and nanoscale control of actinide materials. Christine subsequently began work on a post-detonation nuclear forensics project co-advised by Dr. Burns and Dr. Simonetti.  This project involved a multi-scale analysis of trinitite (melt glass from the Trinity test, the world's first atomic detonation), and encompassed a wide variety of analytical techniques. Christine successfully defended her PhD Thesis in April 2013, and is currently working for the State Department in Washington DC.
Nolan Welsh, BSc Environmental Geosciences- Nolan worked with Tony between May 2012 and May 2013.  He first conducted research in the Fall 2011, investigating the Acidalia Planitia region of Mars using GIS for Prof. Ralph Milikian (now at Brown University). Nolan also assisted with the analysis of Trinitite, which included optical and BSE imaging, as well as EDS and electron microprobe analysis.  When Nolan is not pulverizing rocks in the laboratory, you can find him pulverizing the opposition on the rugby pitch. Nolan is currently employed with Schlumburger as a Wireline Engineer.


Sara Mana, PhD (Rutgers University) - Sara obtained her PhD working on the role of magmatism in rifting using radiogenic isotope and incompatible trace element geochemistry to infer the source and depth of melting in the North Tanzanian Divergence zone (East African Rift system). She has experience performing high-precision 40Ar/39Ar step-heating geochronology on mineral separates and matrix samples; ICP-OES and MC-ICP-MS measurements on whole rock digested samples and LA-ICP-MS on glass disks. Her experience in mass spectrometry will be applied to the study of in-situ chemical and isotopic analysis of the mineral phases included in Trinitite glass samples. Her research work helped distinguish the signature derived from the device’s tamper as compared to the geological background signature. Sara began her tenure as a visiting assitant professor at the Department of Geological Sciences, University of Iowa in August 2014.
Jeremy J. Bellucci, PhD (University of Maryland) - (Aug. 2011- Aug. 2013) Jeremy specializes in micron-scale isotopic systematics. His research interests are in understanding the spatially resolved chemical and isotopic chemistry of Earth materials. He investigated the chemical and isotopic composition of trinitite for the purpose of establishing a database for nuclear forensics and furthering the understanding of nuclear explosion chemistry. Jeremy is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum in Sweden.