Toni Galloway, University of St Andrews
My PhD research currently focuses on studying biogeochemical cycling of essential elements within Mars analogue sites. I work primarily on modern hot spring systems on Earth as analogues to Noachian Mars. This period, dating from 4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago, was during the interval known as the Late Heavy Bombardment and when first life forms likely arose on Earth. Examining hot spring conditions while using geochemical and bioinformatic analyses aids in understanding how those extremophilic organisms associated with the springs use carbon and nitrogen, and the biosignatures which these reactions leave behind in the geological record.
Toni has a background in both biology and geology thanks to her joint bachelor’s degree at the University of St Andrews. She was one of the few locals at the University, moving from only 30 minutes away in comparison to her mostly international cohort. During her undergraduate degree, she was introduced to the field of astrobiology and the study of analogue environments by her supervisor Dr Claire Cousins. This area of research fascinated her so much that she returned to St Andrews to work with Dr Cousins for her PhD, and she is currently spending part of her time in Manchester learning bioinformatic analyses from her secondary supervisor Professor Sophie Nixon.
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