Emilie Dunham


I am a Geosciences PhD candidate and NASA Earth and Space Sciences Fellow in the Center for Meteorite Studies of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University. I am advised by professors Dr. Meenakshi Wadhwa and Dr. Steven Desch.

I received my B.S. degree in Astronomy (minors in geology and physics) from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 (School of Arts and Sciences). As an undergraduate student, I worked with Dr. Ralph Harvey on comparing specific martian meteorites and dolorites to understand the crystallization processes on Mars.

If you're interested in learning more about me, please check out my CV, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, or ORCID!


Here is a broad overview of projects I am working on. You can also find my publications listed on my Google Scholar Site

Deciphering Clues in the Solar System's First Formed Solids

Calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) were the first solids to crystallize from the nebular gas surrounding our protostar (green outlined object in picture to the left); because they existed during this early time, they recorded clues about the violent events which occurred in the early Solar System. I use mass spectrometry techniques to determine chemical and isotopic compositions of meteorites with the goal of deciphering the irradiation environment during Solar System formation. It is important to study these events because they influenced what our Solar System looks like today!

As part of this project, I have synthesized glasses by melting oxide powders at high temperatures, you can see this process here.

If you're interested in learning more about this work, you should read my article in the Meteorite Times magazine titled Understanding Solar System History: CAIs in Meteorites.

The Shape of the Kuiper Belt Object Haumea

Haumea is one of the most intriguing Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO). It is about 1/3rd the mass and located near Pluto, covered in nearly pure water ice, and is one of the fastest spinning bodies in the Solar System rotating in about 4 hours! This has caused Haumea to flatten into a football shape. I use an algorithm which solves for Haumea's equilibruim shape in order to constrain what the core is made of; this informs us that Haumea was potentially habitable early in its evolution.

Martian Meteorites

Shergottites are igneous martian meteorites that crystallized as recently as 180 million years ago. Using mass spectrometry techniques, I measured the rare earth element content of martian meteorites recently found in Antarctica. This research helps us understand the magma from which the rock crystallized, which gives us a glimpse into what the martian mantle looks like.


At ASU, I have been heavily involved with a number of outreach and education programs. I serve as a mentor and professional development teacher with ASU's Sundial Project, a program which fosters mentorship opportunities in the physical sciences for diverse undergraduate communities.

ASU's Graduate Partners in Science Education is an excellent program that I am a part of; we created lesson plans for K-12 students interested in STEM and then implemented them in local Phoenix schools. The more advanced students conducted science project, which I judged at our end of the year science fair.

Representing the Center for Meteorite Studies, I present and teach about meteorites to the public in various events: SESE's Earth and Space Exploration Day, ASU's Night of the Open Door, Monthly SESE Open House, Phoenix Comicon (I participated as a panelist in 2017), Poston Jr. High School Astronomy Night in Mesa AZ, PI day and Girl Scout day events at Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, AZ.


email: etdunham[at]asu.edu

Institutional address: 550 E. Tyler Mall, PSF room 680, Tempe AZ, 85287