Above: NWA 5717 ungrouped chondrite, one of the most pristine extraterrestrial samples of meteorite available for study.


About Us

The Origins Laboratory was created in 2004 at the University of Chicago as part of the Department of the Geophysical Sciences and Enrico Fermi Institute.

Our interests are closely tied to the question of origins. Which processes governed the synthesis of the elements? How did matter expelled from the successive generations of stars contribute to shape the cosmic abundances of the elements? How and when did solar system bodies such as planets, asteroids, and comets form? How did the Earth get its wet atmosphere? How did the surface and environment of the Earth evolve through time? To address these questions, we study the natural distribution of elements and isotopes using various instruments designed for separating nuclides according to their mass.


Current Team


Professor             Info | CV | G.S.  



Postdoc Researcher            Info | CV


Graduate student            Info | CV



Graduate student            Info | CV


Graduate student            Info | CV





Former Members


Postdoc Researcher '19-'22

Now Staff Scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany



PhD '22

Now Research Scientist at Drumetix Laboratories.


PhD '21

Now Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Cambridge 



PhD '21 

Now Postdoctoral Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts    


PhD '19

Now Postdoctoral Fellow at Geophysical Lab of Carnegie Institution for Science. Joining MIT EAPS faculty in July 2023.            



Postdoc Researcher '17-'19

Now Assistant Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography          


Master '19

Now at Deliverr Inc. 



Master '18

Now at Radix Trading LLC.


Postdoc Researcher '15-'17

Now researcher at Natural History Museum of Geneva/University of Bern




PhD '15

Now Assistant Professor at Caltech


Postdoc Researcher '13-'14

Now researcher at the Institut für Planetologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany



PhD '14

Now Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto


Postdoc Researcher '12-'13

Now Senior Lecturer at Cardiff University, UK



PhD '13

Now Postdoc Researcher at UCLA


Undergraduate student '12-'13

Now Graduate Student at Caltech, Pasadena, CA



PhD '12

Now consultant at Prudential in HK


Postdoc '09-'12

Now senior QC analyst at Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc.



Postdoc '09-'11

Now Senior Research Scientist at Schlumberger-Doll Research, Cambridge MA


Postdoc '06-'09     

Now Associate Professor at University of Miami



Undergraduate student '07-'09

Now Assistant Professor at the University of Santa Cruz


Postdoc '06-'07

Now Professor at University of Washington



PhD '07

Now Professor at University of Technology and Science of China


Postdoc '05-'06

Now Professor at Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris








Nicolas Dauphas

I am the conductor and the first violinist of the Origins Lab. When I joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 2004 with a joint appointment at the Department of the Geophysical Sciences and the Enrico Fermi Institute, I immediately began a research program on questions related to our origins using naturally occurring isotope variations. My engineering degree has provided me with skills in analytical and modeling methods. This highly uncommon background for an isotope geochemist allows me to develop original strategies to solve some of the most important questions in this emerging, cross-disciplinary field. You can contact Nicolas at dauphas@uchicago.edu.

Marc-Alban Millet

Marc-Alban Millet joined the lab in May 2012 after a long trip over from New Zealand. Marc-Alban received his BSc from ENS Lyon (France) in 2004 and then undertook postgraduate studies at the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans in Clermont-Ferrand (France). His PhD (nov. 2007) was focused on the trace element and isotopic signature (Sr-Nd-Pb) of OIB (mainly Azores and Cape Verde archipelago). While a post-doc in at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), Marc-Alban switched interest to the geochemistry of non-traditional stable isotopes, especially Fe and applied it to a wide range of topics, from ocean chemistry to cosmochemistry. In his spare time, Marc-Alban enjoys running, tramping and photography. You can contact Marc-Alban at millet@uchicago.edu.

Christoph Burkhardt

Christoph joined the Origins Lab in February 2013. He received diplomas in geology and mineralogy from the University of Cologne, Germany, and did a PhD in isotope cosmo- and geochemistry at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. His main (but not only) research interests are on the processes and timescales of the formation and evolution of the solar system and the Earth. Besides science, Christoph likes riding on boards, mountaineering, vegetarian cooking and books. You can contact Christoph at burkhardt@uchicago.edu.

Haolan Tang

Haolan graduated from USTC (University of Science and Technology of China) with a B.S. of Environmental Sciences. She joined in the Origins Lab in 2007. She is studying Fe-Ni systematics in different types of meteorites by ICP-MS to figure out the initial abundance and homogeneity of 60Fe in the early solar system. After work if you want to find her, just let her know you want to watch the soccer game or anime with someone :) Her email: cafetang@uchicago.edu.

Corliss Sio

Corliss graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Geology. She joined the Origins Lab in Fall 2008. She is interested in high temperature isotope geochemistry and experimental petrology. Her research thesis is focus on the application of Fe and Mg isotopes to petrologic studies. She enjoys traveling and playing badminton. You can contact Corliss at ksio@uchicago.edu.

Francois Tissot

Francois received his double diploma of Engineer specialized in Hydrogeology and Master of Science in 2009 from both the ENSG (National School of Geology) in Nancy, France and the Lulea School of Technology in Lulea, Sweden. In the fall quarter of 2009, he joined the Origins Lab at the University of Chicago as graduate student, and became officially a PhD candidate in Spring 2011. His research currently focuses on uranium isotopes and their use as a tracer of paleoredox condition on earth. When samples allow, Francois enjoys theatre (acting/directing), photography, and Mel Brooks musicals. You can contact Francois at ftissot@uchicago.edu.

Junjun Zhang

Zhang completed her undergrad studies at Nanjing University and joined the Origins Lab in 2007. Her research focuses on understanding the origin and distribution of isotope anomalies in the solar system. She has developed a new method for MC-ICPMS measurement of titanium isotopic composition. This newly developed method has been successfully applied to different groups of bulk meteorites and lunar samples. The scientific questions she aims to answer include the origin of Ti isotope anomalies, what the carrier phases of Ti isotope anomalies are, and how these carrier phases were distributed and preserved during the solar system evolution.

Mark Fornace

Mark is a fourth-year undergraduate in the University of Chicago, currently finishing up his majors in Chemistry and Geophysical Sciences. He worked at the University of Maryland during the summer of 2011 and joined the Origins Lab in the fall of the same year. His research interests include computational modeling of astronomical processes, as well as using chemical theory to predict and match isotopic variations in geological materials. In his free time, Mark enjoys hiking, reading, and playing squash. You can contact Mark at mfornace@uchicago.edu.

Nicole (Xike) Nie

Nicole (Xike) received her M.S. of Geochemistry in IGGCAS (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences). Before that, she graduated from CUGB (China University of Geosciences, Beijing) with a B.S. of Geology. She joined the Origins Lab in the fall quarter of 2013, and is currently working on Fe isotope fractionation during the formation of Banded Iron Formations (BIF). Besides, lots of things like cooking, jogging and traveling make her feel great. You can contact Nicole at xike@uchicago.edu.

Nicolas Greber

Nicolas studied Earth Sciences at the University of Bern (CH) and subsequently started as PhD student, investigating different aspects of the global molybdenum isotope cycle. Throughout his Master and PhD project, he additionally worked at the Natural History Museum Bern, focusing on classifying and collecting meteorites in the desert of Oman. He finished his PhD in 2014 and joined the Origins Lab in January 2015, where he works on characterizing the stable isotope composition of the moon and CAIs. Besides working, Nicolas is a fan of all kind of racket sports, snowboarding, good food and books. You can contact him at greber@uchicago.edu.

Justin (Jingya) Hu

Justin (Jingya) graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) with a B.S. of Geochemistry. He joined the Origins Lab at the University of Chicago in 2014. He is currently working on isotope analysis of Rare Earth Elements. In his leisure time, Justin likes to play video games and is a big fan of anime. You can contact Justin at jingya@uchicago.edu.

Cindy (Xi) Chen

Cindy graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) with a B.S. of Geochemistry. She joined the Origins Lab at the University of Chicago in 2015. She is now working on the oxygenation history of Earth’s ocean and the evolution of Early Solar System. She likes swimming and watching movies. You can contact Cindy at chenxicindy@uchicago.edu.

Andrew Heard

Andy Heard received his MEarth in Earth Sciences from the University of Oxford in 2016. He joined the Origins Lab in 2016. He is currently investigating the geochemical variation and origins of microlaminations in Banded Iron Formations (BIF). In his spare time he plays Rugby and reads an unhealthy amount of Sci-Fi. You can contact Andy at andyheard@uchicago.edu.

Matous Ptacek

Matouš studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, graduating in June 2016 with an M.Sci. degree. His masters’ thesis concerned improving predictive models of volcanic eruption, with a special focus on the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat. He is now investigating changes in the behaviour of continents over the last 3.5 billion years, developing Python and C++ statistical packages for the analysis of high-dimensional geochemical databases. Beyond geology, Matouš is interested in the work of Prof. Douglas Hofstadter, and the philosophy of mind. He also likes weird cheeses, bad films, and fine cognac.You can contact Matt at mptacek@uchicago.edu.

Sarah Aarons

Sarah received her BS in Geological and Environmental Science from Stanford University, and her MS and PhD in Earth and Environmental Science from the University of Michigan. She joined the Origins Lab in October 2017, and is currently working on understanding the effects of physical and chemical weathering upon Ti isotope fractionation. Sarah’s other research interests include using geochemical techniques to determine ice core dust provenance and evaluating sources and nutrient composition of modern dust to terrestrial ecosystems. In her free time Sarah likes to cook, run, travel and spend time with family. You can contact Sarah at smaarons@uchicago.edu.

Hao Zeng

Hao received his B.S. in chemistry from the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in 2016. He joined the Origin Lab in 2017 and is currently concerned with the computational chemistry methods applicable to problems in geochemistry and cosmochemistry. He likes Go, popping, traveling and skydiving. You can contact Hao at zengh@uchicago.edu.

James(Zhe) Zhang

James(Zhe) Zhang received his B.S. in Geology from the Peking University and M.Sc. in geochemistry from the University of Alberta. He joined the Origins Lab at the University of Chicago in 2018. He is currently studying the geochemical evolution of the continental crust. He likes playing basketball and watching movies. You can contact James at zhez@uchicago.edu.

Camilla(Xinyi) Liu

Camilla graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a minor in German. She joined the Origins Lab at the University of Chicago in 2019. She is now studying the coevolution of Earth surface processes, biogeochemical cycles and early life. She enjoys backpacking and playing the Xiao. You can contact Camilla at xliu98@uchicago.edu.

Timo Hopp

Timo received a BSc. and MSc. in Earth Sciences as well as doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) in Planetology from the University of Muenster, Germany. His research was focused on the application of mass-dependent ruthenium isotope variations to understand large-scale planetary processes (late accretion, core crystallization, partial melting). During ten months of postdoctoral research following his doctorate in Muenster, he investigated nucleosynthetic ruthenium and molybdenum variations in meteorites to identify changes in Earth's late stages accretion. Additionally, he worked on stable ruthenium isotopes as a new tool in nuclear forensics. In October 2019, Timo joined the Origins Lab as postdoctoral researcher and will use alkali elements to investigate the formation and evolution of the early Solar System. In his free time he likes rock climbing/bouldering, books, concerts, and cooking. You can contact Timo at hopp@uchicago.edu.

Aleisha Johnson

I am interested in understanding the rise of O2 in Earth's atmosphere, as well as the compositional evolution of Earth's continental crust. While both had profound consequences for Earth's sustained habitability, both are also poorly constrained, especially with regards to how crustal evolution may have driven or hindered atmospheric evolution. To better understand crustal evolution, I apply stable titanium (Ti) and iron (Fe) isotopes to modern magmatic environments to calibrate isotopes as tracers of magmatic differentiation through time. You can contact Aleisha at acjohnson@uchicago.edu.

Andrew Regula

Andrew Regula received his B.S. in Geology from St. Norbert College, and M.S. in Geology from the University of Minnesota - Duluth. He joined the Origins Lab in 2019. He is presently interested in using high pressure/temperature experimental techniques paired with trace element and isotopic analysis to probe the composition of Earth's interior, and learn more about its evolution through time. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and listening to music, and cycling. Andrew can be reached at regula@uchicago.edu.