Heather C. Watson  
Experimental Geophysics

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in the closely related fields of experimental geochemistry, and mineral physics. Using a wide variety of experimental and analytical techniques, I seek to understand the processes that contribute to the earliest formation and the dynamic evolution of the Earth and terrestrial planets. Broadly, I am interested in transport processes within the Earth and terrestrial planets. Much of my research has focused on understanding how these processes contribute to core formation and evolution. More specific ongoing interests include diffusion in metals and minerals, kinetic isotope fractionation in metals and silicates, and the effect of trace elements on physical properties of minerals. Other directions of ongoing research include electrical conductivity measurements of Earth materials at ambient to high pressure and synchrotron based X-ray tomography at high pressure and temperature.  I also enjoy modeling broader scale geophysical phenomena using the experimental data I have collected and making scientifically useful illustrations of these processes.

Above:  Schematic illustration of processes contributing to the physical and chemical evolution of the Earth's core and the core-mantle boundary.  

Teaching Interests

I have enjoyed teaching a diverse range of Earth and planetary science and physics topics in many different educational environments.  I have worked with students at every level, from high school  through graduate school.  I have advised several undergraduate and graduate students on experimental and modeling research projects related to planet formation and evolution.  I have taught both Earth and planetary science and physics at an introductory college level, and upper level university courses. I have also given several public lectures at museums, and for local rock and mineral clubs, and amateur astronomy clubs. I am passionate about science and discovery, and very happy to share my enthusiasm with interested and motivated students at all levels and of all backgrounds.

Above: Photomicrograph of chondrules in thin section under cross polarized light from meteorite ALH 77011. Field of view is approximately 2 mm.

Image Credit: Kasey Todd (MS Student at NIU)