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Idaho 2011

Leslie L. Baker, Ph.D.
Research scientist. Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences
University of Idaho

Spaceward Bound Expedition Idaho 2011

I am a geochemist doing research on topics including weathering of rocks on Earth and Mars, the formation of clay minerals, and the behavior of toxic elements in contaminated soils and sediments. I am primarily an experimentalist, meaning I frequently synthesize my own rocks to study, but I combine this with analytical studies and as much field work as possible. Currently I am studying the structure and chemistry of nano-clays formed from weathering of volcanic glass, whether they are present on the surface of Mars, and what that might tell us about past conditions on Mars.

I received my Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University, where I studied the chemistry of volcanic gases, including the sulfur-rich gas erupted by Mount Pinatubo in 1991 that caused cooling of the Earth’s surface for several years. I came to Idaho as a postdoctoral fellow in geochemistry to study supercritical water oxidation. Then I spent two years as Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT, before returning to Idaho.

I have been involved in science education outreach with the Science by Mail program, local science fairs, the Big Sky Science Bowl, the Palouse Discovery Science Center, Idaho Space Grant-sponsored teacher workshops, and Idaho Public Television.

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Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: May 2011