Blog posts

ESE Spotlight: Dr Joel Davis on the geology of Mars

A picture of Joel Davis next to the text 'Joel Davis, Lecturer in Planetary Science'

Dr Joel Davis is a Lecturer in Planetary Science at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE). As a planetary geologist, Joel studies different planetary surface processes, but his major focus is the geology of Mars.

He seeks to understand ancient and modern geological environments on the red planet – to uncover when and how quickly the climate in Mars ‘dried out’, leading it to become ‘hyperarid’. His research also focuses on different arid environments on Earth, how climate change is affecting them, and how these can be used as an analogue for other planets.

Joel is involved in several ongoing and upcoming space missions for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), including NASA’s Curiosity rover, the HiRISE and CaSSIS instruments – two high-resolution cameras, 400 km above the surface of Mars. He is also a Co-Investigator for the PanCam instrument on the ESA’s upcoming ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover mission.

In this blog post, Joel tells us more about himself, his research interests and why he decided to join ESE.


ESE Spotlight: Dr Gege Wen on the intersection of AI and Earth science

Gege Wen profile picture next to her title: Lecturer in AI & Machine Learning

Dr Gege Wen recently joined the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) as a Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. Co-appointed by I-X, Gege’s research focuses on computational methods and solutions for Earth and environmental science problems, to help fulfil society’s energy needs and transition toward a low-carbon future.

She specialises in sustainable subsurface energy storage, CO2 geological storage, and machine learning for scientific computing. In this blog post, we explore Gege’s interests and find out more about what led her to Imperial.


Can virtual reality help tackle accessibility barriers in Earth science?

Students wearing red helmets gather in a circle around their notebooks during fieldwork.

Fieldtrips are a cornerstone in geology pedagogy. Traditionally, studying a degree in Earth Science involves travelling to different locations, often abroad, to study rocks and landscapes first-hand.

“Outdoor fieldtrips give students the chance to examine rocks, landscapes and structures first-hand—cementing the textbook concepts we study in class,” says Dr Valentin Laurent, Senior Teaching Fellow in Pedagogic Transformation at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial.

But, while exciting and inspiring, fieldwork can also pose risks, be expensive, and present a significant barrier for students with disabilities or health issues. As Dr Valentin Laurent explains, using virtual reality (VR) can remove some accessibility barriers, while also taking fieldwork to a whole new level.


ESE Spotlight: Dr Keir Nichols on sea level rise projections

Dr Keir Nichols, Postoc Research associate at the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London. An image of Keir in the field is shown on the right hand side. Keir holds a tool and kneels next to a rock.
Dr Keir Nichols is a Postdoc Research Associate in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering (ESE) at Imperial. As a glacial geologist, he is interested in understanding how glaciers, particularly the Antarctic ice sheets, have changed over the last ~20,000 years.

By reconstructing the past, Keir is working to help reduce uncertainties in future sea level rise projections. In this blog post, Keir explains more about his motivations and what he is hoping to achieve with his research.