ASB Committee

The ASB Committee is responsible for running the Astrobiology Society of Britain. Its members are:


 Mark Fox-Powell, The Open University


Mark is a research fellow in the AstrobiologyOU group at The Open University who is interested in how life might be detected on icy bodies in our Solar System, such as Ganymede, Enceladus and Europa. With a background in geochemistry and microbiology, Mark’s work focuses on modelling and experimentally simulating cryovolcanic processes and ice formation processes to help interpret data from upcoming missions, such as the JUpiter Icy Moons Explorer (ESA) and the Europa Clipper (NASA). Mark also conducts field campaigns in polar and sub-polar environments in Canada and Iceland. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkFoxPowell and find out more on his personal website


 Corentin Loron, University of Edinburgh


CorentinCorentin Loron is an International Newton Fellow of The Royal Society based at the University of Edinburgh (UKCA). His primary interest is the study of the apparition and evolution of complex life, notably of fungi. His axis of research include the investigation of organic signatures in fossils by the mean of benchtop and synchrotron infrared spectroscopy. Follow his twitter @CCLoron and find out more on his personal website

Outreach officer

 Lewis Dartnell, University of Westminster


Llewis_dartnell-california-freddie_claireewis is a research scientist based at the University of Westminster, and former UK Space Agency Aurora Fellow. His astrobiology research is studying how life, and signs of its existence known as biosignatures, might survive the cosmic radiation on the surface of Mars. He does this with a combination of computer modelling, working with biosignature detection instrumentation, and experimental irradiations. He also holds an STFC Science in Society Fellowship and alongside his astrobiology research engages in a lot of public outreach and science communication. He has published four popular science books, including the introductory astrobiology book, “Life in the Universe: A Beginner’s Guide”.


Louisa Preston, MSSL, University College London


Dr. Louisa Preston is a UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology based at The Natural History Museum, London. She has worked on projects for NASA and the Canadian, European and UK Space Agencies studying environments across the Earth, where life is able to survive our planet’s most extreme conditions, using them as blueprints for possible extra-terrestrial life forms and habitats.  She is an avid science communicator having spoken about the search for life on Mars at the TED Conference in 2013, and her first book Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe is out now by Bloomsbury Sigma. Follow her on Twitter @LouisaJPreston and her personal webpage:


Membership and Website officer

David Slade,  The Open University


David Slade is a former PhD student and post-doctoral research assistant in the AstrobiologyOU group and the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) NOMAD UVIS science team at the The Open University. His research focuses on utilising anaerobic microbiology techniques, as well as unique high-pressure systems, to study methane-producing microbes to help interpret volatile organic chemistry data retrieved from the ExoMars TGO NOMAD instrument data. Follow him on @djslade1988 and on his personal website


Industry officer

David Summers,  Thales Alenia Space in the UK


David Summers is the Industry Representative on the ASB Committee. David works for Thales Alenia Space in the UK. After spending ten years in academia (Particle Physics Phenomenology), David moved into industry – where he has been for the last 15 years – and started work on space projects. Inside the space industry, David’s role is quite unusual – with his training in science, he is the person to go to for new technologies in early stages of development. With a background in maths, he is often called on for his knowledge, particularly in statistics, and also interpretation of data. This latter work brought involvement with astrobiology, on ESA’s study on sterilisation limits for sample return planetary protection measures; there David takes measurements of sterilization in hypervelocity and radiation tests on organisms, and uses this to predict levels of possible life on Martian moons.

Ex-officio Committee members:

 Manish Patel, The Open University

Manish Patel is a Senior Lecturer in Planetary Sciences at the Open University, and holds a Joint Appointment at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.  His primary interests are the investigation of planetary environments using space instrumentation, and radiative transfer modelling of Mars’ atmosphere.  He began his career working on the Beagle 2 Environmental Sensor Suite as part of his PhD, followed by the Cassini-Huygens mission to Titan. He is currently the Co-PI of the NOMAD instrument on-board the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter which will investigate the abundance and variability of trace gases (such as methane) and aerosols in the martian atmosphere.

Jonathan Horner, University of Southern Queensland


pic1 Jonti is the Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland. He first became interested in astronomy at the age of five, having caught the end of an episode of a Sky at Night, and has been a passionate amateur astronomer ever since. Jonti obtained his DPhil. from the University of Oxford in 2004 for research studying ‘The Behaviour of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System”. Since then, his research has broadened, covering topics from the formation and evolution of our Solar system to the various astronomical drivers that might affect the habitability of exoplanets. He is also actively involved in the search for planets around other stars, and is currently helping to lead the construction of the MINERVA-Australis observatory at USQ, with the goal of finding Earth-like planets around some of the Sun’s nearest neighbours. Jonti is a regular contributor the TheConversation, and regularly discuss recent research in astronomy and astrobiology on local and national radio in Australia, as well as on Twitter.

Marina Barcenilla, University of Westminster


Marina Barcenilla is an Astrobiology PhD student based at the University of Westminster. Her research is currently focused on the detection of spectroscopic biosignatures on Mars, but she also has an interest in the habitability of Europa and other icy satellites. She is a keen science communicator and started her own public engagement project, AromAtom, in 2017.


Claire Cousins, University of St. Andrews


Claire is a lecturer in Earth sciences and is part of the science team for the Pancam instrument on board the European Space Agency Rosalid Franklin rover. Claire has a keen interest in cryovolcanism and how it may preserve and support life.

Claire is currently on Materity leave, but will be returning to the committee in 2023.

Please follow her on twitter at @ClaireCousins10.

Zoe Emerland, The Open University


Zoe is a PhD student in the AstrobiologyOU group at The Open University who researches the potential transfer of biosignatures and other organics from Mars to it’s moon, Phobos. She achieves this using the light gas gun in the hypervelocity impact lab, for which she is also now a research assistant. Follow Zoe on twitter at @Zoe_Emerland.


Andrew Rushby, Birkbeck, University of London


Andrew is a lecturer in Earth and Planetary sciences with a research interest in processes that maintain the long-term climate stability of terrestrial planets, biogeochemical and climate/physical feedback mechanisms within the planet system, atmospheric dynamics and evolution, as well as biosignature detection. Follow Andrew on twitter at @andrewrushby.


Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh


Charles is a professor of astrobiology and microbiology and his research and teaching focuses on extreme environments and the survival of microorganisms and their biosignatures in those hostile places which informs on the potential habitability of extraterrestrial environments. Follow Charles on twitter at @CharlesCockell.


The ASB Committee Constitution (updated October 2015) can downloaded in pdf. format.