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Dr Frances Butcher

Profile summary

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Professional biography

I am a Visiting Research Fellow of the Open University and a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the University of Sheffield (Department of Geography), working on the ERC-funded PALGLAC project (PI: Chris Clark).

My research is in planetary science and glaciology, with a specific focus on exploring glacial landforms on Earth and Mars. I have also contributed to studies of candidate landing sites for the ExoMars 2020 Rover mission.  

Academic Background

May 2019 - Present: Research Assistant, The Open University, UK

October 2015 - May 2019: PhD, The Open University, UK:

  • Thesis title: 'Wet-Based Glaciation on Mars'
    • Supervisors: Dr Matt Balme (OU), Dr Susan Conway (University of Nantes), Dr Neil Arnold (University of Cambridge), Dr Stephen Lewis (OU), Dr Axel Hagermann (Stirling University).

November 2016: Instrument Scientist, UK Space Agency Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation (MURFI):

  •  A field trial simulating the upcoming ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars 2020 rover mission to Mars.

July 2015 - August 2015: Intern, The Open University, UK:

October 2012 - June 2015: BA (Hons.) Geography, University of Cambridge, UK:

  • Dissertation: 'Eskers on Mars? Investigating the Origins of the Dorsa Argentea'
    • First class (Mark: 96%)
    • Awarded the William Vaughan Lewis Prize (University of Cambridge)
    • Awarded the Corpus Christi College Prize (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)
    • Published as: Butcher F.E.G., Conway, S.J., and Arnold, N.S., (2016), Are the Dorsa Argentea on Mars Eskers?, Icarus 275, 65-84, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.03.028
  • Also awarded the Hewitt Exhibiton for Contributions to Outreach and Admissions Initiatives by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Research and Conference Prizes Won

  • 2nd prize for '3 minute thesis' competition (2018), Open University STEM faculty.
  • Nature Astronomy Prize for Best Student Presentation (2017) at the 1st British Planetary Science Congress, Glasgow, UK, 4-5 Dec. 2017 (Poster).
  • John Glen Prize (2017) for the best student talk at the International Glaciological Society's British Branch Meeting, Lancaster University, UK, 5-7 Sept. 2017.
  • Prize for best student talk (2017) at the Astrobiology Society of Britain: Habitability Beyond Earth conference. Open University, UK, 13-14 Sept. 2017.
  • William Vaughan Lewis Prize (2015), University of Cambridge prize for undergraduate geography dissertation.
  • Corpus Christi College Prize (2015), Corpus Christi College (University of Cambridge) prize for undergraduate dissertation.
  • Hewitt Exhibition (2015), Corpus Christi College (University of Cambridge) prize for contributions to outreach and admissions initiatives between 2012 and 2015.

Travel Grants Won

  • 2019: International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) Conference Grant (€1320)
  • 2019: Lunar and Planetary Institute Career Development Award ($1500)
  • 2019: GeoPlanet Research Mobility Grant (€1200)
    • Awarded by Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique, University of Nantes
  • 2018: Royal Astronomical Society Travel Grant (£900).
  • 2018: British Society for Geomorphology Postgraduate Conference Attendance Grant (£300).
  • 2017: Pierazzo International Student Travel Award ($2000).
    • Awarded to one non-US graduate student globally per year.
    • Awarded by the Planetary Science Institute.
  • 2016: Europlanet Grant 
    • Full funding to attend Europlanet RPIF 3D training workshop, Mullard Space Science Laboratory.
  • 2016: 6th International Mars Polar Conference European Student Travel Grant (€666).
    • Awarded by the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences.
  • 2015: Ogden Trust Trustees' Award (£900).
  • 2015: British Society for Geomorphology Postgraduate Conference Attendance Grant (£850).
  • 2015: ProViDE Summer School EU Student Travel Grant (£500).

Teaching interests

2018:

Invited Speaker: Open University Student Rover Team 'Rover Day':

  • Lecture title: 'Mars landing site selection'

Invited Seminar: University of Sheffield, Department of Geography Seminar Series:

  • Lecture title: 'Glaciers on Mars: Ice, Meltwater, and Morphological Mysteries'

Invited Speaker: Astrobiology Society of Britain & STFC Astrobiology Summer School for PhD students, University of Edinburgh.

  • Lecture title: 'Mars: The Search for Water, Landing Sites and Life'

2016:

Demonstrator, Natural Environment Research Council CENTA Doctoral Training Program ArcGIS Training Course, The Open University.

Invited Workshop: South-East Physics Network GRADnet Planetary Science Workshop for PhD students, National Physical Laboratory, London.

  • Lecture title: 'Planetary Geomorphology in Mars Landing Site Selection'

Impact and engagement

Access and Widening Participation

October 2012- June 2015: Access and Admissions Volunteer, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

  • Awarded a Hewitt Exhibiton by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge for contributions to outreach and admissions initiatives.

18th June 2018: 'Inspirational Speaker': Girls into Science and Engineering event for International Women in Engineering Day, University of Northampton.

  • 4 sessions on 'Geography in Space' attended by ~350 girls aged 10-15 years.

Media engagement

6th October and 24th November 2018: Featured in interview in the Guardian Weekend Supplement and online: 'The PhD researcher looking for water on Mars - and inspiring girls to reach for the stars'

July 2018: Provided expert opinion for media coverage of Orosei et al. 2018. Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aar7268.

  • BBC Three Counties Radio
  • BBC Foyle Radio
  • Vectis Radio (Isle of Wight)

November 2017-March 2018: Media coverage of new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets: 'Recent basal melting of a mid-latitude glacier on Mars':

October 2017: Fieldwork diaries podcast episode on 'Glaciers on Mars'.

  • Text summary here.

May 2017: WeMartians podcast episode on Eskers on Mars

Invited Talks for Societies and Special Interest Groups

February 2019: Friends of the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge

November 2018: Open University Geological Society Walton Hall Branch, Milton Keynes

January 2018: Open University Geological Society East Midlands Branch, Keyworth

  • As part of the OUGS 'Ice Worlds' Day at the British Geological Survey

September 2017: Macclesfield Astronomical Society, Macclesfield

July 2017: Open University Fusion Society (Student Physics Society), Milton Keynes

April 2017: Open University Astronomical Society, Milton Keynes

Invited Talks for Schools

May 2019: Invited lecture, Queen Katherine School, Kendal (Secondary School)

  • Lecture title: Space glaciers! Water and ice on Mars...
  • Audience: Years 9-13

May 2019: Invited lesson, Old Hutton Primary School, Old Hutton

  • Lesson title: Geography in Space!
  • Audience: Year 6

March 2019: Invited lecture, South Hampstead High School

  • Lecture title: Space glaciers! Water and ice on Mars...
  • Audience: Years 11-13

November 2017: Invited lecture, Denbigh School STEM lecture series, Milton Keynes (Secondary School)

  • Lecture title: Space glaciers! Water ice on Mars and beyond...
  • Audience: Years 9-13 plus general public.

Open University Outreach Events

October 2015 - Present: Outreach Volunteer, The Open University

  • ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Exhibit Volunteer, Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2018
  • Open University Student Hub Live 'Planets' episode, Feb 2018
  • On-campus outreach events
  • 'Space Science Showcase', Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, 12-13th August 2016.
  • OU School of Physical Sciences events, including open days and awards ceremonies.

External collaborations

  • Susan Conway (CNRS, Laboratoire De Planétologie et Géodynamique, France): Studies of icy landscapes and slope processes on Mars.
  • Neil Arnold (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK): Studies of glacier hydrology and associated landforms on Mars.
  • Colman Gallagher (University College Dublin, Ireland): Studies of glacial landscapes and eskers on Mars.
  • Rob Storrar (Sheffield Hallam University, UK): Comparative studies of eskers on Earth and Mars.
  • Tjalling de Haas (Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands): Studies of the interaction of glaciation and gully formation on Mars.

Publications

Morphometry of a glacier-linked esker in NW Tempe Terra, Mars, and implications for sediment-discharge dynamics of subglacial drainage (2020-07-15)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Balme, Matthew R.; Conway, Susan J.; Gallagher, Colman; Arnold, Neil S.; Storrar, Robert D.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Hagermann, Axel
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 542, Article 116325


Modeled subglacial water flow routing supports localized intrusive heating as a possible cause of basal melting of Mars' south polar ice cap (2019-08-07)
Arnold, Neil S.; Conway, Susan J.; Butcher, Frances E. G and Balme, Matthew R.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 124(8) (pp. 2101-2116)


Molards as an indicator of permafrost degradation and landslide processes (2019-06-15)
Morino, Costanza; Conway, Susan J.; Sæmundsson, Þorsteinn; Kristinn Helgason, Jón; Hillier, John; Butcher, Frances E.G.; Balme, Matthew R.; Jordan, Colm and Argles, Tom
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 516 (pp. 136-147)


The 2016 UK Space Agency Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation (MURFI) (2019-01)
Balme, M. R.; Curtis-Rouse, M. C.; Banham, S.; Barnes, D.; Barnes, R.; Bauer, A.; Bedford, C. C.; Bridges, J.C.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Caballo, P.; Caldwell, A.; Coates, A. J.; Cousins, C.; Davis, J. M.; Dequaire, J.; Edwards, P.; Fawdon, P.; Furuya, K.; Gadd, M.; Get, P.; Griffiths, A.; Grindrod, P. M.; Gunn, M.; Gupta, S.; Hansen, R.; Harris, J. K.; Hicks, L. J.; Holt, J.; Huber, B.; Huntly, C.; Hutchinson, I.; Jackson, L.; Kay, S.; Kyberd, S.; Lerman, H. N.; McHugh, M.; McMahon, W. J.; Muller, J.-P.; Ortner, T.; Osinski, G.; Paar, G.; Preston, L. J.; Schwenzer, S. P.; Stabbins, R.; Tao, Y.; Traxler, C.; Turner, S.; Tyler, L.; Venn, S.; Walker, H.; Wilcox, T.; Wright, J. and Yeomans, B.
Planetary And Space Science, 165 (pp. 31-56)


Glacial and gully erosion on Mars: A terrestrial perspective (2018-10-01)
Conway, Susan J.; Butcher, Frances E. G.; de Haas, Tjalling; Deijns, Axel J.; Grindrod, Peter M. and Davis, Joel M.
Geomorphology, 318 (pp. 26-57)


Surface-based 3D measurements of small aeolian bedforms on Mars and implications for estimating ExoMars rover traversability hazards (2018-04)
Balme, Matt; Robson, Ellen; Barnes, Rob; Butcher, Frances; Fawdon, Peter; Huber, Ben; Ortner, Thomas; Paar, Gerhard; Traxler, Christoph; Bridges, John; Gupta, Sanjeev and Vago, Jorge L.
Planetary And Space Science, 153 (pp. 39-53)


Recent basal melting of a mid-latitude glacier on Mars (2017-12)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Balme, M. R.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Conway, S. J.; Hagermann, A. and Lewis, S. R.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 122(12) (pp. 2445-2468)


Are the Dorsa Argentea on Mars eskers? (2016-09-01)
Butcher, Frances E.G.; Conway, Susan J. and Arnold, Neil S.
Icarus, 275 (pp. 65-84)


Time will tell: temporal evolution of Martian gullies and palaeoclimatic implications (2019-01-01)
de Haas, T.; Conway, S. J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Levy, J.; Grindrod, P. M.; Goudge, T. A. and Balme, M. R.
In: Conway, S. J.; Carrivick, J. L.; Carling, P. A.; de Haas, T. and Harrison, T. N. eds. Martian Gullies and their Earth Analogues. Special Publications (467) (pp. 165-186)
ISBN : 9781786203625 | Publisher : The Geological Society of London | Published : London


The Hydrology of Mars Including a Potential Cryosphere (2018)
Lasue, Jérémie; Clifford, Stephen M.; Conway, Susan J.; Mangold, Nicolas and Butcher, Frances E. G.
In: Filiberto, Justin and Schwenzer, Susanne P. eds. Volatiles in the Martian Crust (pp. 185-246)
Publisher : Elsevier


Internal Structure of a Glacier on Mars Revealed by Gully Incision (2020)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Arnold, Neil S.; Berman, Daniel C.; Conway, Susan J.; Davis, Joel M.; Balme, Matthew R. and Barnes, R.
In : Lunar and Planetary Science Conference ( (Physical Meeting Cancelled (Covid - 19): Ab ract Online Only, Physical Meeting Cancelled (Covid-19): Abstract Online Only)


Possible Transport of Basal Debris to the Surface of a Mid-Latitude Glacier on Mars (2020)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Arnold, Neil S.; Berman, Daniel C.; Conway, Susan J.; Davis, Joel M. and Balme, Matthew R.
In : EGU General Assembly 2020: Sharing Geoscience Online (4-8 May 2020, Online)


Modelling Esker Formation on Mars (2020)
Arnold, Neil S.; Butcher, Frances E. G.; Gallagher, Colman; Balme, Matthew R. and Conway, Susan J.
In : EGU General Assembly 2020: Sharing Geoscience Online (4-8 May 2020, Online)


Eskers on Mars: morphometric comparisons to eskers on Earth and implications for sediment-discharge dynamics of subglacial drainage (2019-04-07)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Balme, Matt R.; Gallagher, Colman; Storrar, Robert D.; Conway, Susan J.; Arnold, Neil S.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Hagermann, Axel
In : European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2019 (7-12 Apr 2019, Vienna, Austria)


3D Morphometries of Eskers on Mars, and Comparisons to Eskers in Finland (2019)
Butcher, F. E. G.; Balme, M. R.; Gallagher, C.; Storrar, R. D.; Conway, S. J.; Arnold, N. S.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (18-22 Mar 2019, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Multi-Phase Sedment-Discharge Dynamics of Subglacial Drainage Recorded by a Glacier-Linked Esker in NW Tempe Terra, Mars (2019)
Butcher, F. E. G.; Balme, M. R.; Gallagher, C.; Storrar, R. D.; Conway, S. J.; Arnold, N. S.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (18-22 Mar 2019, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Eskers on Mars: Morphometric comparisons to eskers on Earth and implications for sediment-discharge dynamics of subglacial drainage (2019)
Butcher, Frances E.G.; Balme, Matthew R.; Gallagher, Colman; Storrar, Robert D.; Conway, Susan J.; Arnold, Neil S.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Hagermann, Axel
In : European Geophysical Union (EGU) General Assembly 2019 (7-12 Apr 2019, Vienna, Austria)


Eskers associated with mid-latitude glaciers on Mars and their palaeoenvironmental implications (2019)
Butcher, Frances E.G.; Arnold, Neil .S.; Balme, Matthew R.; Gallagher, Colman; Conway, Susan J.; Lewis, Stephen R.; Hagermann, Axel and Storrar, Robert. D.
In : 20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) (25-31 Jul 2019, Dublin, Ireland)


Morphometries of eskers on Mars: comparisons to eskers on Earth and implications for sediment-discharge dynamics of subglacial drainage (2019)
Butcher, Frances E.G.; Balme, Matthew R.; Gallagher, Colman; Storrar, Robert D.; Conway, Susan J.; Arnold, Neil S.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Hagermann, Axel
In : 20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) (25-31 Jul 2019, Dublin, Ireland)


Quaternary Mars? (2019)
Butcher, Frances E. G.; Balme, Matthew R.; Gallagher, Colman; Conway, Susan J.; Lewis, Stephen R. and Mc Keown, L.
In : 20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) (25-31 Jul 2019, Dublin, Ireland)


Evidence for Recent Wet-Based Crater Glaciation in Tempe Terra, Mars. (2018)
Butcher, F. E.G; Balme, M. R.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S; Conway, S. J.; Storrar, R. D.; Hagermann, A. and Lewis, S. R.
In : 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 Mar 2018, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Glacier-Linked Eskers on Mars: Environments of Recent Wet-Based Glaciation From Numerical Models (2018)
Butcher, F. E.G; Arnold, N. S.; Balme, M. R; Gallagher, C; Conway, S. J.; Hagermann, A and Lewis, S. R.
In : 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 Mar 2018, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Intense Glacial Erosion Could Have Erased Gullies on Mars (2018)
Conway, S. J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; de Haas, T.; Deijns, A. A. J. and Grindrod, P. M.
In : 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 Mar 2018, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Highly erosive glaciers on Mars - the role of water (2018)
Conway, S. J.; Butcher, F. E.G.; de Haas, T.; Deijns, A. A. J. and Grindrod, P. M.
In : EGU General Assembly 2018 (8-13 Apr 2018, Vienna, Austria)


Surface-based 3D measurements of small aeolian bedforms on Mars (2018)
Balme, Matthew; Robson, Ellen; Barnes, Robert; Butcher, Frances; Fawdon, Peter; Huber, Ben; Ortner, Thomas; Paar, Gerhard; Traxler, Christoph; Bridges, John; Gupta, Sanjeev and Vago, Jorge
In : EGU General Assembly 2018 (8-13 Apr 2018, Vienna, Austria)


UK Space Agency “Mars Utah Rover Field Investigation 2016” (MURFI 2016): overview of mission, aims and progress (2017-03)
Balme, M. R.; Curtis-Rouse, M. C.; Banham, S.; Barnes, D.; Barnes, R.; Bauer, A.; Bedford, C.; Bridges, J.; Butcher, F. E. G.; Caballo, P.; Caldwell, A.; Coates, A.; Cousins, C.; Davis, J.; Dequaire, J.; Edwards, P.; Fawdon, P.; Furuya, K.; Gadd, M.; Get, P.; Griffiths, A.; Grindrod, P. M.; Gunn, M.; Gupta, S.; Hansen, R.; Harris, J. K.; Holt, J.; Huber, B.; Huntly, C.; Hutchinson, I.; Jackson, L.; Kay, S.; Kybert, S.; Lerman, H. N.; McHugh, M.; McMahon, W.; Muller, J.-P.; Paar, G.; Preston, L. J.; Schwenzer, S.; Stabbins, R.; Tao, Y.; Traxler, C; Turner, S.; Tyler, L.; Venn, S.; Walker, H.; Wright, J. and Yeomans, B.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 Mar 2017, Houston)


Eskers associated with Extant Glaciers in Mid-Latitude Graben on Mars: Evidence for Geothermal Controls upon Recent Basal Melting (2017-03)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Balme, M. R.; Conway, S. J.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 Mar 2017, Houston, Texas, USA)


Morphometric Characterisation of Eskers Associated with an Extant Mid-Latitude Glacier on Mars (2017-03)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Gallagher, C.; Arnold, N. S.; Balme, M. R.; Conway, S. J.; Lewis, S. R. and Hagermann, A.
In : 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (20-24 Mar 2017, Houston, Texas, USA)


New evidence for geothermal controls upon recent basal melting of mid-latitude glaciers on Mars (2017)
Butcher, Frances; Gallagher, Colman; Arnold, Neil; Balme, Matthew; Conway, Susan; Lewis, Stephen and Hagermann, Axel
In : EGU General Assembly 2017 (23-28 Apr 2017, Vienna, Austria)


Surface-Based 3d measurements of aeolian bedforms on Mars (2017)
Balme, Matthew; Robson, Ellen; Barnes, Robert; Huber, Ben; Butcher, Frances; Fawdon, Peter; Gupta, Sanjeev and Paar, Gerhard
In : EGU General Assembly 2017 (23-28 Apr 2017, Vienna, Austria)


Time will tell: temporal evolution of Martian gullies and paleoclimatic implications (2017)
de Haas, Tjalling; Conway, Susan; Butcher, Frances; Levy, Joseph; Grindrod, Pete; Goudge, Timothy and Balme, Matthew
In : EGU General Assembly 2017 (23-28 Apr 2017, Vienna, Austria)


The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: New Comparisons to a Large Sample of Terrestrial Eskers and Quantitative Tests for Esker-Like Topographic Relationships (2016-09)
Butcher, F. E.G.; Conway, S. J. and Arnold, N. S.
In : Sixth International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration (5-9 Sep 2016, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland)


Characterizing Rock Abundance At ExoMars Landing Site Candidates (2016-03)
Sefton-Nash, E.; Bridges, J. C.; Kissick, L.; Butcher, F.; Donnelly, P.; Piercy, J. D.; Vago, J. L.; Loizeau, D.; Lorenzoni, L.; Grindrod, P. M. and Balme, M.
In : 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (21-25 Mar 2016, The Woodlands, Texas, USA)


The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: Comparison to new terrestrial analogues and statistical tests for topographic relationships (2016-01-22)
Butcher, F.E.G.; Conway, S.J. and Arnold, N.S.
In : UKPF 13th Annual Early Career Planetary Scientists' Meeting (22 Jan 2016)


The Dorsa Argentea, Mars: Comparison to >5900 Terrestrial Esker Systems and Statistical Tests for Topographic Relationships (2016)
Butcher, F.E.G; Conway, S.J.; Arnold, N.S. and Balme, M.R.
In : 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (21-25 Mar 2016, Houston, Texas)


Wet-Based Glaciation on Mars (2019-04-01)
Butcher, Frances E. G.
PhD thesis The Open University