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Dr Nisha Ramkissoon

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Professional biography

I am a planetary scientist working in the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. My research uses laboratory experiments and modelling to explore how various processes, such as hypervelocity impacts, hydrothermal processes, and biological activity, can influence the evolution of planetary bodies within the Solar System. My current research focuses on determining if geochemical signatures generated via microbe-silicate interactions could be detected by space missions, and if these signatures could be used to determine if microbes have ever existed on potentially habitable bodies, such as Mars and Europa.

I have specific expertise in the effects of hypervelocity impacts on Mars via two processes: serpentinisation and devolatilisation.  These two (potentially) impact-induced processes have the potential to effect the composition of the martian atmosphere, by either the production of methane (via serpentinisation) and the release of volatiles.   My PhD (University of Kent) examined the possibility of indirectly detecting these processes using Raman spectroscopy.

Research interests

My research interests focus, specifically, on the changes that can occur to minerals as a result of biological life.  These changes can act as bio-signatures that can be used to identify life, past or present, on planets such as Mars.

I also investigate mineralogical changes that occur in high pressure and temperature environments arising from meteorite impacts on planetary bodies, which results in alteration to the crust of rocky bodies (such as Mars), potential alteration to atmosphere composition (thus effecting the climates of these bodies) and  the  potential for these impact craters to support life. 

As part of my research I have gained experience in a number of analytical techniques, such as Raman spectroscopy, SEM-EDS analysis, electron microprobe, thermogravimetric analysis and differential scanning colorimetry.  I have also conducted computer modelling to examine the physical conditions experienced in hypervelocity impacts and thermochemical changes that occur as a result of water-rock interactions.    

Publications

Sulfur Cycling as a Viable Metabolism under Simulated Noachian/Hesperian Chemistries (2022-04)
Oliver, James A.W.; Kelbrick, Matthew; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Dugdale, Amy; Stephens, Ben; Kucukkilic-Stephens, Ezgi; Fox-Powell, Mark G.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Antunes, André and Macey, Michael C.
Life, 12, Article 523(4)


Oligotrophic Growth of Nitrate-Dependent Fe 2+ -Oxidising Microorganisms Under Simulated Early Martian Conditions (2022-03)
Price, Alex; Macey, Michael C.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
Frontiers in Microbiology, 13, Article 800219


Alteration conditions on the CM and CV parent bodies – Insights from hydrothermal experiments with the CO chondrite Kainsaz (2022-02-01)
Suttle, M.D.; King, A.J.; Ramkissoon, N.K.; Bonato, E.; Franchi, I.A.; Malley, J.; Schofield, P.F.; Najorka, J.; Salge, T. and Russell, S.S.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 318 (pp. 83-111)


Hunting for Life on Mars by Studying Life on Earth (2021-10)
Macey, Michael; Grand, Ann; Fox-Powell, Mark; Ramkissoon, Nisha; Cousins, Claire and Olsson-Francis, Karen
Frontiers for Young Minds, 9, Article 665929


Hunting for biosignatures on Mars (2021-08-01)
Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Burchell, Mark J; Fawdon, Peter and Preston, Louisa
Astronomy & Geophysics, 62(4) (pp. 4.24-4.27)


Exploring the environments of Martian impact‐generated hydrothermal systems and their potential to support life (2021-07)
Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Turner, Stuart M. R.; Macey, Michael C.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Reed, Mark H.; Pearson, Victoria K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 56(7) (pp. 1350-1368)


Simulating microbial processes in extraterrestrial, aqueous environments (2020-02-29)
Olsson-Francis, K.; Ramkissoon, N. K.; Macey, M.; Pearson, V. K.; Schwenzer, S. P. and Johnson, D. N.
Journal of Microbiological Methods, 172, Article 105883


Experimental and Simulation Efforts in the Astrobiological Exploration of Exooceans (2020)
Taubner, Ruth-Sophie; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Vance, Steven D.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Postberg, Frank; de Vera, Jean-Pierre; Antunes, André; Camprubi Casas, Eloi; Sekine, Yasuhito; Noack, Lena; Barge, Laura; Goodman, Jason; Jebbar, Mohamed; Journaux, Baptiste; Karatekin, Özgür; Klenner, Fabian; Rabbow, Elke; Rettberg, Petra; Rückriemen-Bez, Tina; Saur, Joachim; Shibuya, Takazo and Soderlund, Krista M.
Space Science Reviews, 216, Article 9(1)


The identification of sulfide oxidation as a potential metabolism driving primary production on late Noachian Mars (2020)
Macey, M. C.; Fox-Powell, M.; Ramkissoon, N. K.; Stephens, B. P.; Barton, T.; Schwenzer, S. P.; Pearson, V. K.; Cousins, C. R. and Olsson-Francis, K.
Scientific reports, 10, Article 10941


New simulants for martian regolith: Controlling iron variability (2019-12)
Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Schröder, Christian; Kirnbauer, Thomas; Wood, Deborah; Seidel, Robert G. W.; Miller, Michael A. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
Planetary and Space Science, 179, Article 104722


Biosignatures in the solar system (2018-12-01)
Slade, David; Price, Alex; Hamp, Rachael and Ramkissoon, Nisha
The Biochemist, 40(6) (pp. 6-9)


The Study of Microbial Survival in Extraterrestrial Environments Using Low Earth Orbit and Ground-Based Experiments (2018-10)
Olsson-Francis, Karen; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Price, Alex B.; Slade, David J.; Macey, Michael C. and Pearson, Victoria K.
In: Gurtler, Volker and Trevors, Jack T. eds. Microbiology of Atypical Environments. Methods in Microbiology (pp. 27-65)
ISBN : 978-0-12-814604-0 | Publisher : Elsevier


Modelling ejected martian biomarkers impacting Phobos (2021)
Morland, Zoe; Halim, Samuel; Pearson, Victoria; Patel, Manish; Green, Simon and Ramkissoon, Nisha
In : 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (15-19 Mar 2020 (Virtual), Houston, USA)


Geochemical Energy Available to Microbes in Martian Impact Craters (2021)
Ramkissoon, Nisha; Turner, Stuart; Macey, Michael; Schwenzer, Susanne; Reed, M.H.; Pearson, Victoria and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021 (15-19 Mar 2021, Virtual)


Colour Peak:An analogue environment for the waters of late Noachian Mars (2020-08-28)
Macey, Michael; Ramkissoon, Nisha; Fox-Powell, Mark; Barton, Tim; Stephens, Ben P.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Cousins, Claire R. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : EANA 2020 (27-28 Aug 2020, Online)


Characterising the Transfer of Biomarkers within the Phobos-Mars System (2020-03)
Morland, Z. S.; Pearson, V. K.; Patel, M. R.; Green, S. F.; Ramkissoon, N. K. and Spencer-Jones, C. L.
In : 51st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (16-20 Mar 2020 (Cancelled), Houston, USA)


Modelling the survival of ejected martian biomarkers impacting Phobos (2020)
Morland, Zoe; Halim, Samuel; Pearson, Victoria; Patel, Manish; Green, Simon and Ramkissoon, Nisha
In : Europlanet Science Congress 2020 (21 Sep - 9 Oct 2020, Virtual)


Testing the habitability of distinct simulated martian environments (2020)
Macey, Michael C.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : AbGradE 2020 (26/08/2020, Online)


Colour Peak: An analogue environment for late Noachian Mars (2020)
Macey, Michael C.; Fox-Powell, Mark; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Stephens, Ben P.; Barton, Tim; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Cousins, Claire R. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Astrobiology Australasia Meeting (9-11 Sep 2020, Online)


Martian fluids and their evaporation products – an overview using thermochemical modelling (2020)
Schwenzer, Susanne; Bridges, John; Turner, Stuart; Ramkissoon, Nisha; Cogliati, Simone; Seidel, Robert; Reed, Mark; Filiberto, Justin; Vaniman, D. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 51st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (16-18 Mar 2020)


The identification of sulfide oxidation as potential metabolism driving primary production on late Noachian Mars (2020)
Macey, Michael C; Fox-Powell, Mark; Ramkissoon, Nisha K; Baharier, Bea; Oliver, James A W; Stephens, Ben; Schwenzer, Susanne P; Pearson, Victoria K; Cousins, Claire R and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (15-19 Mar 2020 (Virtual), Houston, USA)


Modelling the Rock-Water Interactions in the Sub-surface Environment of Enceladus (2019-08)
Hamp, Rachael; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Schwenzer, Susanne; Ramkissoon, Nisha and Pearson, Victoria
In : Goldschmidt Conference 2019 (18-23 Aug 2019, Barcelona)


Viable metabolisms in a simulated martian environments (2019-06-24)
Macey, Michael; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : AbSciCon 2019 (24-28 Jun 2019, Bellevue, Washington)


Viable metabolisms in a simulated martian chemical environment (2019-04-08)
Macey, Michael; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : Microbiology Society Annual Conference 2019 (8-11 Apr 2019, ICC Belfast, UK)


A New Simulant to Represent The Silicate Interior of Enceladus (2019)
Hamp, Rachael; Ramkissoon, Nisha; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Schwenzer, Susanne and Pearson, Victoria
In : Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (18-22 Mar 2019, Houston, USA)


Transfer of Biomarkers in the Phobos-Mars System: Hyper-Velocity Impact Investigations using a Light Gas Gun (2019)
Morland, Z.S.; Pearson, V.K.; Patel, M.R.; Green, S.F. and Ramkissoon, N.K.
In : 2nd British Planetary Science Conference (13-15 Jan 2020, Oxford, UK)


Simulating the Martian Chemical Enivronment (2018)
Ramkissoon, N. K.; Schwenzer, S. P.; Pearson, V. K. and Olsson-Francis, K.
In : 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 Mar 2018, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


The Physio-Chemical Properties for the Interior of Enceladus (2018)
Hamp, R. E.; Ramkissoon, N. K.; Olsson-Francis, K.; Schwenzer, S. P. and Pearson, V. K.
In : 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (19-23 Mar 2018, The Woodlands, Houston, Texas, USA)


Microbial growth in simulated martian environments (2018)
Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Macey, Michael C.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : European Planetary Science Congress 2018 (16-21 Sep 2018, Berlin, Germany)


Viable metabolisms in a simulated martian chemical environment (2018)
Macey, Michael C.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Pearson, Victoria K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : AbGradE Symposium 2018 (22-24 Sep 2018, Berlin)


Simulating martian environments for microbial growth experiments (2018)
Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Macey, Michael C.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 12th International Congress of Extremophiles (16-20 Sep 2018, Ischia, Naples)


Modelling the Rock-Water Interface on Enceladus (2018)
Hamp, Rachael; Olsson-Francis, Karen; Schwenzer, Susanne; Ramkissoon, Nisha and Pearson, Victoria
In : European Planetary Science Congress 2018 (16-21 Sep 2018, Berlin, Germany)


The impact of martian brine chemistry on the growth of microorganisms (2017)
Macey, Michael C.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 1st British Planetary Science Congress (3-5 Dec 2017, Glasgow)


The impact of martian chemistry on the metabolism of methanogenic archaea (2017)
Macey, Michael C.; Ramkissoon, Nisha K.; Schwenzer, Susanne P.; Pearson, Victoria K. and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 7th Astrobiology Society of Britain Conference (13-14 Sep 2017, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)