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Dr Victoria Pearson

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Physical Sciences
  • victoria.pearson

Professional biography

2015 - present Senior Lecturer, Department of Physical Sciences (Planetary and Space Sciences)
2012-2015 Lecturer in Analytical Sciences, Department of Physical Sciences (Planetary and Space Sciences)
2009-2012 Lecturer in Analytical Sciences, Department of Chemistry
2003-2009 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute

Research interests

The synthesis and evolution of extraterrestrial organic material, including:
-In situ studies of organic material in meteorites
-Elemental and isotopic studies of extraterrestrial organic material
-Formation and evolution of the Solar System
Prebiotic evolution and astrobiology including:
-Survival or organisms and biomarkers in potentially habitable environments

The accessibility of chemistry for visual impaired students (eSTEeM project 2014/15)
​The achievement of women in physics (eSTEeM project 2014/15)

Publications are available on Open Research Online.

Current PhD students: 
Alex Price: Biosignatures for life detection (STFC)
Peter Woolman: Biogeochemistry in the Deep Sub-surface Environment: the Key for Finding Potential Life on Mars. (EEE/OU/UKCA)
Roy Adkin: Novel Fluorescent Sensors For Detecting Organic Compounds In Extra-Terrestrial Samples (STFC)
Elliot Curtis-Harper: Biosignatures for life detection on Mars (STFC)

Previous PhD students:
Rebecca Wolsey: The chemical signatures of life on Mars (STFC)
Steven Summers: Critical Zone bacterial ecology (OU)
Michael Goodyear: Organic Chemistry and Mineral Interactions in the Solar System (OU Charter Studentship & STFC)
Rebecca Wilson: Organic Material in Micrometeorites: Processes Affecting its Delivery to Planetary Environments (STFC)

Teaching interests

Deputy Associate Dean, Equal opportunities 

S250 Science in context (Module team chair, also responsible for Topic 3, and an Associate Lecturer)
S201 (production) (Deputy Chair, also responsible for Topic 2)
S810 MSc project module (Associate lecturer)

And previously:
S104 Exploring science (Deputy Chair & Module Team member)
S240 Analytical science: health heritage and environments (Module team member & co-Chair, responsible for Book 2)
S804 Communicating Science (Associate lecturer)
S802 Science and the Public (Associate lecturer)

Impact and engagement

Chair, Department of Physical Sciences Juno/Athena SWAN Team
Member of University’s STEM Gender Diversity Group
Athena SWAN reviewer

Interim-Chair, Cross Faculty Accessibility Working Group
Member, University 'Other formats' groupAssociate Editor of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology (GST).

Co-Investigator on The Open University’s ‘Engaging opportunities’ project (Schools-University Partnership, SUPI)
Lead on RCUK SUPI/Science Learning Partnership 'Cutting Edge Science' project
STFC Small Awards Panel member

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science

 

Externally funded projects

The feasibility of contemporary life elsewhere in our Solar System

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator09/Jan/201708/Jan/2020LEVERHULME The Leverhulme Trust
The aim of this proposal is it determine the feasibility of contemporary life existing elsewhere in the Solar System. To address this aim we will 1) investigate microbial processes that could occur in proposed transient water on the surface of Mars and in the sub-surface oceans of Enceladus and Europa and 2) assess how the geochemistry within these habitable environments would differ over geological timescales in the presence and absence of life. We will use a unique approach, which combines simulation experiments with geochemical modelling.

Engaging Opportunities (Extension)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Jan/201631/Dec/2016RCUK Research Councils UK
In March 2015, RCUK extended the funding to projects participating in the School-University Partnerships Initiative by one year. The purpose of the 12-month extension (Jan-Dec 2016) is to enable our partnership with the Denbigh Teaching School Alliance to develop a particular emphasis on embedding and sustainability in the final phase of the Initiative.

SterLim Phase 2

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Oct/201530/Jun/2017ESA (European Space Agency)
SterLim: Sterilisation limits for sample return planetary protection measures

Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Open University

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Apr/201431/Mar/2017STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
The aim of our programme in Astronomy & Planetary Science at the Open University (APSOU) is to carryout detailed investigations of the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets with a special emphasis on our own Solar System through a combination of observation, simulation, laboratory analysis and theoretical modelling. Our research is divided into two broad areas, reflecting the historical research strengths. This research programme is well-matched to both nationally- and internationally-agreed research imperatives. In its final report, A Science Vision for European Astronomy2, Astronet’s Science Working Group identified four broad areas of strategic importance; our research covers major topics within each of these areas. APSOU projects also map onto two of the four Science Challenges that form STFC’s Road Map3 for science (‘How did the universe begin and how is it evolving?’ and ‘How do stars and planetary systems develop and is life unique to our planet?’). The present APSOU programme comprises 20 projects (labelled A to T), of which 6 are for consideration by the Astronomy Observation (AO) panel, 1 for Astronomy Theory (AT), and 13 for the Planetary Studies (PL) panel. The AO projects cover the breadth of the 7 themes recognised as UK strengths in the report of STFC’s Astronomy Advisory Panel (AAP), whilst the 13 PL projects are directed towards answering questions raised in two of the three themes identified as UK strengths in the roadmap of STFC’s Solar System Advisory Panel (SSAP)4.

Publications

A Study of the Microbial Community at the Interface between Granite Bedrock and Soil Using a Culture-Independent and Culture-Dependent Approach (2016)
Olsson-Francis, Karen; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schofield, Paul F.; Oliver, Anna and Summers, Stephen
Advances in Microbiology, 6(3) (pp. 233-245)
A culture-independent and culture-dependent study of the bacteria community from the bedrock soil interface (2015-12-15)
Olsson-Francis, Karen; Pearson, Victoria; Boardman, Carl; Schofield, Paul; Oliver, Anna and Summers, Stephen
Advances in Microbiology, 5(13) (pp. 842-857)
Institutional change for improving accessibility in the design and delivery of distance learning – the role of faculty accessibility specialists at The Open University (2015-04)
Slater, Rachel; Pearson, Victoria; Warren, James and Forbes, Tina
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 30(1) (pp. 6-20)
Maribo-A new CM fall from Denmark (2012-01)
Haack, Henning; Grau, Thomas; Bischoff, Addi; Horstmann, Marian; Wasson, John; Sørensen, Anton; Laubenstein, Matthias; Ott, Ulrich; Palme, Hubert; Gellissen, Marko; Greenwood, Richard C.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Franchi, Ian A.; Gabelica, Zelimir and Schmitt-Kopplin, Phillipe
Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 47(1) (pp. 30-50)
Volcaniclastic habitats for early life on Earth and Mars: a case study from ~3.5 Ga-old rocks from the Pilbara, Australia (2011-08)
Westall, Frances; Foucher, Frédéric; Cavalazzi, Barbara; de Vries, Sjoukje T.; Nijman, Wouter; Pearson, Victoria; Watson, Jon; Verchovsky, Alexander; Wright, Ian; Rouzaud, Jean-Noel; Marchesini, Daniele and Anne, Severine
Planetary and Space Science, 59(10) (1093- 1106)
Volcaniclastic habitats for early life on Earth and Mars: A case study from 3.5 Ga-old rocks from the Pilbara, Australia (2011-08)
Westall, Frances; Foucher, Frédéric; Cavalazzi, Barbara; de Vries, Sjoukje T.; Nijman, Wouter; Pearson, Victoria; Watson, Jon ; Verchovsky, Alexander; Wright, Ian; Rouzaud, Jean-Noel ; Marchesini, Daniele and Anne, Severine
Planetary and Space Science, 59(10) (pp. 1093-1106)
Laboratory experiments on the weathering of iron meteorites and carbonaceous chondrites by iron-oxidizing bacteria (2009)
Gronstal, A.; Pearson, V.; Kappler, A.; Dooris, C.; Anand, M.; Poitrasson, F.; Kee, T. P. and Cockell, C. S.
Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 44(2) (pp. 233-247)
The labelling of meteoritic organic material using osmium tetroxide vapour impregnation (2007-07)
Pearson, V. K.; Kearlsey, A. T.; Sephton, M. A. and Gilmour, I.
Planetary and Space Science, 55(10) (pp. 1310-1318)
Carbon and nitrogen in carbonaceous chondrites: elemental abundances and stable isotopic compositions (2006-12)
Pearson, Victoria; Sephton, M.A.; Franchi, Ian; Gibson, Jennifer and Gilmour, Iain
Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41(12) (pp. 1899-1918)
Molecular and isotopic indicators of alteration in CR chondrites (2006-09)
Pearson, Victoria K.; Sephton, M. and Gilmour, Iain
Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41(9) (pp. 1291-1303)
Molecular, isotopic and in situ analytical approaches to the study of meteoritic organic material (2004-12-24)
Watson, Jonathan S.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Sephton, Mark A. and Gilmour, Iain
International Journal of Astrobiology, 3(2) (pp. 107-116)
A very public fireball (2004-12)
Bridges, J.C.; Schwanethal, J.P.; Paton, M.D.; Pearson, V.K.; Greenwood, R.C.; Watson, J.S. and Morgan, G.H.
Astronomy & Geophysics, 45(6) (pp. 6.25-6.26)
Contamination by sesquiterpenoid derivatives in the Orgueil carbonaceous chondrite (2003-01)
Watson, Jonathan S.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Gilmour, Iain and Sephton, Mark A.
Organic Geochemistry, 34(1) (pp. 37-47)
Clay mineral-organic matter relationships in the early solar system (2002-12)
Pearson, Victoria K.; Sephton, Mark A.; Kearsley, Anton T.; Bland, Philip A.; Franchi, Ian A. and Gilmour, Iain
Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 37(12) (pp. 1829-1833)
Extraterrestrial organic matter as recorded in meteorites (2010)
Pearson, Victoria; Wilson, Rebecca and Gilmour, Iain
In: Basiuk, Vladimir A. ed. Astrobiology, Emergence, Search and Detection of Life (pp. 155-173)
ISBN : 1-58883-137-X | Publisher : American Scientific Publishers | Published : California
The 3.466 Ga "Kitty's Gap Chert," an early Archean microbial ecosystem (2006)
Westall, Frances; de Vries, Sjoukje T.; Nijman, Wouter; Rouchon, Virgile; Orberger, Beate; Pearson, Victoria K.; Watson, Jonathan S.; Verchovsky, Sasha; Wright, Ian; Rouzaud, Jean-Noel; Marchesini, Daniele and Severine, Anne
In: Reimold, Wolf Uwe and Gibson, Roger L. eds. Processes on the Early Earth. Geological Society of America Special Paper (pp. 105-131)
ISBN : 0-8137-2405-8 | Publisher : Geological Society of America
The anaerobic community of an estuarine environment: an analogue for life on Mars. (2015-04)
Curtis-Harper, Elliot; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Schwenzer, Susanne and Pearson, Victoria
In : 4th UK in Aurora Programme Meeting (15 May 2015, London)
Containers, sensors and samples to understand desert weathering (2015-03)
Schwenzer, S. P.; Barnes, J. J.; Charlier, B. L.; Grady, M. M.; Hall, C.; Melwani Daswani, M.; Morse, A.; Olsson-Francis, K.; Patel, M.; Pearson, V.; Pillinger, J. M.; Preston, L. J.; Sheridan, S.; Sherlock, S. C.; Steer, E. D.; Summers, S.; Verchovsky, S.; Dove-Jay, A. S. ; Jewell, S. and Musilova, M.
In : 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (16-20 March 2015, The Woodlands, TX, USA)
Subsurface Halophiles: An Analogue for Potential Life on Mars (2015)
Woolman, P. F.; Pearson, V. K.; Cockell, C. and Olsson-Francis, K.
In : UK Planetary Forum 12th Early Career Planetary Scientists’ Meeting (19-20 February 2015, University of Kent)
Subsurface Halophiles: An Analogue for Potential Life on Mars. (2015)
Woolman, P. F.; Pearson, V. K.; Cockell, C. S. and Olsson-Francis, K.
In : Life on Earth and Beyond: The History and Philosophy of the Origin of Life (4-6 May 2015, Ven Island, Sweden)
The anaerobic community of an estuarine environment: an analogue for life on Mars (2014-10)
Curtis-Harper, E.; Pearson, V.; Schwenzer, S. and Olsson-Francis, K.
In : 14th European Workshop on Astrobiology: Signatures of life: from gases to fossils (EANA14) (13-16 October 2014, Edinburgh) (p 94)
The anaerobic community of an estuarine environment: an analogue for life on Mars (2014-01)
Curtis-Harper, E.; Pearson, V. K.; Schwenzer, S. P. and Olsson-Francis, K.
In : 12th Early Career Planetary Scientists’ Meeting (19-20 February 2015, University of Kent)
Separation of Q from carbon in CR meteorites during stepped combustion (2012-03)
Verchovsky, A. B.; Pearson, V. K.; Fisenko, A. V.; Semenova, L .F.; Sephton, M. A. and Wright, I. P.
In : 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 March 2012, The Woodlands, TX, US)
Separation of Q from carbon in CR meteorites during stepped combustion (2012-03)
Verchovsky, A. B.; Pearson, V. K.; Fisenko, A. V.; Semjonova, L. F.; Sephton, M. A. and Wright, I. P.
In : 43d Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (21-23 March 2012, The Woodlands, TX, USA)
Preliminary investigation into the use of surface modification techniques to detect organic materials in meteorites (2011-08)
Goodyear, M. D.; Gilmour, I. and Pearson, V. K.
In : 74th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (08-12 August 2011, London, UK)
Development of visualisation methodology for organic materials contained within carbonaceous chondrites (2011-03)
Goodyear, M. D.; Gilmour, I. and Pearson, V. K.
In : 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (7-11 March 2011, The Woodlands, Houston, TX, USA)
Beagle I and II Voyages: Charles Darwin’s rocks and the quest for Mars rock; the Open University’s virtual microscope has both (2011)
Schwenzer, Susanne; Tindle, Andrew G.; Anand, Mahesh; Gibson, Everett K.; Pearson, Vic K.; Pemberton, Dan; Pillinger, Colin; Smith, Caroline L.; Whalley, Peter and Kelley, Simon Peter
In : AGU Fall Meeting (5-9 December 2011, San Francisco, CA, USA)
The rocks from space “Space Safari”: an example of remote public engagement in the planetary sciences (2010)
Pearson, Victoria and Brooks, Val
In : European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2010 (2-7 May 2010, Vienna, Austria)
Virtual microscope for extra-terrestrial samples (2010)
Anand, M.; Pearson, V.; Kelley, S.; Tindle, A.; Whalley, P. and Koeberl, K.
In : European Planetary Science Congress (19-24 Sep 2010, Rome, Italy)
Preliminary organic analysis of a new Danish carbonaceous chondrite (2009)
Pearson, Victoria; Haack, Henning and Gilmour, Iain
In : 72nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (13-18 Jul 2009, Nancy, France)
Laboratory experiments on the weathering of iron meteorites and carbonaceous chondrites by iron-oxidising bacteria (2009)
Kee, T; Gronstal, A.; Pearson, V.; Kappla, A.; Dooris, C.; Anand, M.; Poitrasson, F. and Cockell, C.
In : Goldschmidt (21-26 Jun 2009, Davos, Switzerland)
Comprehensive Organic Analysis of Antartic Micrometeorites (2008-03)
Wilson, R. C.; Dobrica, E.; Pearson, V. K.; Turner, D. C. and Gilmour, I.
In : 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (10-14 March 2008, League City, Texas, USA)
Carbon and nitrogen cosmochemistry of the CO3 group (2008)
Pearson, Victoria; Greenwood, Richard; Verchovsky, Sasha; Turner, Diane and Gilmour, Iain
In : 71st Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society 2008 (28 July - 01 Aug 2008, Matsue, Japan)
Identification (or otherwise) of martian carbon in martian meteorites (2008)
Grady, M.; Pearson, V.; Gilmour, I.; Gilmour, M.; Verchovsky, S.; Watson, J. and Wright, I.
In : Ground Truth from Mars: Science Payoff from a Sample Return Mission (April 21-23, 2008, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Experimental Simulation of Volatile Organic Contributions to Planetary Atmospheres and Surfaces (2007-03)
Wilson, Rebecca; Pearson, Victoria; Morgan, Geraint; Franchi, Ian; Turner, D. C.; Wright, Ian and Gilmour, Iain
In : 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII) (12-16 March 2007, Houston, Texas, USA)
The Moss (CO3) meteorite: an integrated isotopic, organic and mineralogical study (2007-03)
Greenwood, R. C.; Pearson, V. K.; Verchovsky, A. B.; Johnson, D.; Franchi, I. A.; Roaldset, E.; Raade, G. and Bartoschewitz, R.
In : 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII) (12-16 March 2007, Houston, Texas)
Organic constitution of the CO3 chondrites and implications for asteroidal processes (2007-03)
Pearson, V.K.; Greenwood, R.G.; Morgan, G.H.; Turner, D.; Raade, G.; Roaldset, E. and Gilmour, I.
In : 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (12-16 March 2007, League City, Texas)
Identification of Trace Organic Components in the CR Chondrites by 4D TOFMS (2007-03)
Pearson, V. K.; Morgan, G. H.; Turner, D.; Perronnet, M. and Gilmour, I.
In : 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (13-17 March 2007, Houston, Texas, USA)
The rocks from space initiative and the space safari (2007)
Brooks, V.; Greenwood, R. C.; Bridges, J.; Watson, J. and Pearson, V. K.
In : 38th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (12-16 March 2007, League City, Texas, USA)
The effect of atmospheric entry heating on micrometeorite volatile composition (2006)
Wilson, R. C.; Pearson, V. K.; Franchi, I. A.; Wright, I. P. and Gilmour, I.
In : 69th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (6-11 August 2006, Zurich, Switzerland)
Lithium and carbon isotopic fractionations between the alteration assemblages of Nakhla and Lafayette (2005)
Bridges, J. C.; James, R. H.; Pearson, V. K.; Baker, L.; Verchovsky, A. B. and Wright, I. P.
In : 36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (14-18 March 2005, Houston, Texas, USA)
Aqueous alteration of Nakhlites: implications for water on Mars (2005)
Grady, Monica M.; Anand, M.; Bridges, J. C.; Pearson, V. K.; Franchi, I. A. and Wright, I. P.
In : 68th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (12-16 September 2005, Gatlinburg, Tennessee)
Pyrolysis-GC×GC-TOFMS to characterize carbonaceous chondrites (2005)
Watson, J. S.; Pearson, V. K.; Gilmour, I.; Pillinger, C. T.; Turner, D.; Perkins, R. and Morgan, G. H.
In : 36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (14-18 March 2005, Houston, Texas, USA)
Did organic compounds in the Tagish Lake meteorite form via catalytic processes in the solar nebula and within parent bodies? (2003)
Hill, H. G. M.; Gilmour, I.; Pearson, V. K. and Nuth, J. A.
In : 66th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (28 July - 1 August 2003, Munster, Germany)
Organic indicators of alteration in the CR chondrites (2002)
Pearson, V. K.; Sephton, M. A. and Gilmour, I.
In : 33rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (11-15 March 2002, Houston, Texas, USA)
Production of high molecular weight organic compounds on the surfaces of amorphous iron silicate catalysts: Implications for organic synthesis in the solar nebula (2002)
Gilmour, I.; Hill, H. G. M.; Pearson, V.K.; Sephton, M.A and Nuth, J. A.
In : 33rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (11-15 March 2002, Houston, Texas, USA)
Organic-inorganic spatial relationships in carbonaceous chondrites (2002)
Pearson, V. J.; Kearsley, A. T.; Sephton, M. A. and Gilmour, I.
In : 33rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (11-15 March 2002, Houston, Texas, USA)
The association between organic matter and clay minerals in carbonaceous chondrites (2001)
Pearson, V. K.; Sephton, M. A.; Bland, P. A.; Franchi, I. A. and Gilmour, I.
In : 64th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (10-14 September 2001, Vatican City, Italy)
The Tagish Lake chondrite and the interstellar parent body hypothesis (2001)
Gilmour, I.; Sephton, Mark and Pearson, V. K.
In : 32nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (12-16 March 2001, Houston, Texas, USA)
Hydrogen isotopic composition of the Tagish Lake meteorite: comparison with other carbonaceous chondrites (2001)
Pearson, V. K.; Sephton, M. A.; Gilmour, I. and Franchi, I. A.
In : 32nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (12-16 March 2001, Houston, Texas, USA)
Analysis of Tagish Lake macromolecular organic material (2001)
Gilmour, I.; Pearson, V. K. and Sephton, M. A.
In : 32nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (12-16 March 2001, Houston, Texas, USA)
The macromolecular constitution of the CR chondrites (2001)
Pearson, V. K; Sephton, M. A. and Gilmour, I.
In : 64th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society (10-14 September 2001, Vatican City, Italy)

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