Winner of the 2022 Barrie Jones Memorial Award – Dr Áine O’Brien.

Posted on Oct 28, 2022 in ASB in the media, News | 0 comments

Winner of the 2022 Barrie Jones Memorial Award – Dr Áine O’Brien.

Pig vomitoxin and the story of the Lafayette meteorite

Dr Áine O’Brien was awarded the 2022 Barrie Jones Memorial Award for her outstanding contribution to communicating research related to astrobiology. Áine delivered an award lecture at the recent British and Planetary Science Conference, hosted at The Open University in June 2022, in which she shared her work on the Lafayette meteorite. Lafayette was ejected from Mars millions of years ago and landed on Earth in the early 20th century. As an organic geochemist, studying the Lafayette meteorite was an incredible opportunity to study the organic material potentially in the crust of ancient Mars. However, in addition to her Mars-related work, Dr O’Brien uncovered something so unusual that it required her to don her detective hat and embark on an investigation that led her all the way to Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she uncovered mysteries about social divides in 1920’s America, the performance of crop yields year-on-year and the role pig vomitoxin played in agriculture at the time.

At the time of receiving this award, Áine was a PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow studying organic compounds in meteorites; she is also a former high school physics teacher and former Diversity Officer at the Royal Astronomical Society. Áine has delivered high-quality space education and training to schools and organisations in low-income areas and to patients at children’s hospitals, and is a tireless advocate for marginalized communities in STEM, promoting and driving change in the planetary community. In her spare time, she enjoys making the most of the Scottish hills, as well as inviting herself to play dates with all her friends’ pets.

To find out more, watch the Memorial Lecture, here:

and read all about the discoveries in the research article, found here.

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