From pebbles to planets

Understanding how geological materials and landforms leverage our understanding of planetary evolution is one of my main research interests. This requires the study of extra-terrestrial materials, such as meteorites, and landforms of planetary bodies. Although limited in absolute numbers, the six ‘Dutch’ meteorites tell a fascinating story of primitive, metamorphosed and differentiated planetary bodies, each representing a step in the story (during the first millions of years) of the growth to planethood. However, for the final stages in planetary evolution – spanning the scale of billions of years – landscapes can help us to study and tell this story. Internal and external processes that have affected a planetary surface have caused it to retain clues to the planet’s geologic, climatic, and possibly biologic past. Where meteoritics studies the earliest rocks, planetary geoscience studies their lasts transformations; both are highly complementary and timely endeavours in the ongoing exploration of our Solar System.

My research interests

Amongst penitentes as the summit of Cerro Toco (5,604 m). The same
Amongst ‘penitentes’ at the summit of Cerro Toco (5,604 m) in Chile. These ice ablation features form in high-alpine conditions (i.e. low atmopheric pressures) under the influence of the Sun. They have also been found on planet Pluto, where they develop in methane ice in the Tartarus Dorsa regio.

I work as a lecturer in Astrodynamics & Space Missions at the Aerospace Engineering faculty of the TU Delft. As a geomorphologist by training, I specialize in the study of landscape processes that shape our Earth, using knowledge from fields such as physical geography, soil science and of course geomorphology. My passion for landscapes does not stop at the physical limits of the Earth’s atmosphere. Surfaces development of other planetary bodies in the solar system, such as Mars, follows the same natural laws as here on Earth. This makes the geosciences very suited for studying other planetary bodies to infer characteristics of planetary evolution, climate development and assessing habitability. During my PhD research I studied the behavior of volcanic glass (formed e.g. by glaciovolcanism) in different planetary environments.

In addition to my interest in terrestrial and planetary geosciences, I also have a strong interest in meteoritics as meteorites can provide a valuabel perspective on the early evolution of planetary bodies in our solar system. Since 2017 I am affiliated as an Honorary Research Associate to the Taxonomy & Systematics department of the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre to study Dutch meteorites using innovative 3D, micro-CT and spectroscopic techniques.

My two scientific interests (planetary geoscience and meteoritics) are highly complementary and provide a nice basis for my teaching (and research) at the TU Delft.


Go directly to the English pages with more about:

Geosciences | Meteorites | Academic Skills | Public outreach


Publications

An overview of my peer-reviewed work can be found at my ORCID record. The full list, including all other academic output and upcoming work can aldo be found on this webpage.

Science outreach and public engagement

I am very passionate about science outreach and have developed a unique and diverse track record including: significant experience in public speaking (70+), contributed to numerous media events (100+), guided my own geologic tours in Iceland, and enjoy developing ‘kitchen table experiments‘ that support my lectures and media activities. The Dutch pages of this website are meant primarily for the popular-scientific dissemination of my scientific work. Read more about my efforts in public outreach.

Ancillary activities

Science is never a solo endeavor and there are many platforms and organisations that help its exposure, foster collaborations and allow for public dissemination of the work. Here is a list of my past and present involvement in various organisations:

  • President of the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy (KNVWS), term 2018-2022.
  • National committee ‘Exoplanet Naming Competition’ IAU100, member.
  • Netherlands steering committe for IAU100 activities, member.
  • Advisory board Sonnenborgh Observatory, member.
  • Secretary of the Meteor Section of the Royal Netherlands Association for Meteorology and Astronomy (KNVWS) and board member of its ‘Meteor Foundation’.
  • International Meteor Organization (IMO), member & editor of the WGM journal on meteoritics.
  • IAVCEI/IACS Joint Commission on Volcano-Ice Interactions, website.
  • Netherlands Platform for Planetary Science (NPP), LinkedIn page.
  • IAG Planetary Geomorphology Working Group (IAG-PGWG), national representative of The Netherlands 2012-2017.
  • Genootschap ter bevordering van Natuur-, Genees- en Heelkunde (GNGH), past member .
  • European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA), past member.

Also have a look at my Twitter feed or LinkedIn profile. In case you want to send me an email, please check my TUDelft or Naturalis profile for contact details.