Emma Versteegh

Emma Versteegh

Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar at JPL (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Location
Pasadena, California (Greater Los Angeles Area)
Industry
Research

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Emma Versteegh's Overview

Current
Past
Education
Connections

500+ connections

Websites

Emma Versteegh's Summary

My current research is part of a project on hydrothermal vents at the world’s deepest sea floor spreading centre (Mid-Cayman Rise), in the context of astrobiology and potential life on Jupiter’s moon Europa. I use the stable isotope composition of minerals, water, and biota around these vents to disentangle the food web, and trace carbon, nitrogen and sulphur pathways. Recent results show that a shrimp species that was until now considered bactivorous, is probably carnivorous.

Much of my previous and on-going work focussed on biogenic carbonates of terrestrial, freshwater and marine origin. I studied earthworm secreted calcite granules, in order to construct a new terrestrial palaeo-environment thermometer and to quantify carbon sequestration potential, and ran experiments with earthworms living under different environmental conditions and determine their influence on the chemistry of carbonate granules they produce. I developed the first palaeotemperature equation for earthworm produced calcium carbonate and am currently applying it to granules from archaeological finds.

In addition, I did very similar work on growth increments of bivalve shells. I sampled growth lines from mussel shells, and analysed them for different chemical components like stable isotopes of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen, or trace elements like strontium, magnesium and barium. Within the CALMARs project, I pursued several lines of research, the two most important were: Mytilus edulis shell chemistry as a proxy for past dynamics in the Scheldt estuary; and the potential of shell chemistry of the same species as a palaeoenvironmental proxy in the Arctic.

During my PhD I did this type of work on freshwater mussels from the rivers Rhine and Meuse in the Netherlands. I investigated if oxygen and carbon stable isotopes compositions of these shells can serve as a proxy for past river discharges, floods or droughts.

Emma Versteegh's Experience

Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar

JPL (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Government Agency; 5001-10,000 employees; Defense & Space industry

September 2013Present (1 year 1 month) Greater Los Angeles Area

Within NASA's interest in the potential significance of hydrothermal vents in the origin of life and in astrobiology, I seek to disentangle the food web around the world's deepest hydrothermal vents at the Mid-Cayman Rise, using stable isotope chemistry of minerals, water, and biota. I aim to determine the role of hydrothermal vents in biogeochemical cycling, and the structure of the ecosystem around them, and am about to publish new findings on the trophic ecology of several animal species in Limnology and Oceanography. I am responsible for full maintenance and troubleshooting of the IRMS laboratory, and have extensive experience in running and repairing isotope ratio mass spectrometers and various peripherals.

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

University of Reading

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Higher Education industry

October 2010September 2013 (3 years) Reading, United Kingdom

In this position I largely designed my project and successfully implemented plans for laboratory experiments with live earthworms and stable-isotope analyses on earthworm tissues, carbonates, water and soil. I published in leading journals and acquired several travel grants. I delivered lectures in the BSc course “Predicting Natural and Contaminated Environments”, co-supervised several MSc and PhD students, and trained PhD students on managing research projects.
The focus of my research was on earthworm secreted calcite granules, in order to construct a new terrestrial palaeo-environment thermometer. I ran experiments with earthworms living under different environmental conditions and determined their influence on the chemistry of the carbonate granules produced. I used granules from archaeological origin to date soil layers and to reconstruct past temperatures.

Postdoctoral researcher

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Research industry

March 2009April 2010 (1 year 2 months) Brussels Area, Belgium

I designed and implemented research projects on stable nitrogen isotopes in marine bivalves and on oxygen isotopes in Greenland bivalves as tracers of past meltwater fluxes. I gave lectures for MSc students, and co-supervised three PhD students. I was an organiser of the international workshop “Bivalve biomineralisation: Archival potential and proxy incorporation” at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.

Junior Researcher

VU University Amsterdam

Educational Institution; 1001-5000 employees; Research industry

September 2005February 2009 (3 years 6 months) Amsterdam Area, Netherlands

During this employment I did my PhD research. I designed and implemented a field experiment with living freshwater mussels, and developed skills in stable isotope analysis of carbonates and water. I established collaborations with archaeologists and the Dutch natural history museum Naturalis for historic and prehistoric shell collections. I supervised research projects of secondary school students, an MSc research project, and the 1st year BSc Earth sciences field work in the Ardennes. I investigated if oxygen and carbon stable isotopes compositions of freshwater mussels from the rivers Rhine and Meuse in the Netherlands can serve as a proxy for past river discharges, floods or droughts. This resulted in the thesis: "Silent witnesses - Freshwater bivalves as archives of environmental variability in the Rhine-Meuse delta".

Nonprofit; 201-500 employees; Primary/Secondary Education industry

October 2003August 2005 (1 year 11 months) Nijmegen Area, Netherlands

Secondary school teacher (pre-university level) in biology and science. I taught biology and science at Tweede Fase level. I developed the entire biology curriculum, designed and marked tests, and prepared the students for their final exams and graded the exams.

Emma Versteegh's Projects

  • Carbon cycling at hydrothermal vent sites

    • August 2013 to Present
    Team Members: Emma Versteegh, Kathrin Streit, Max Coleman

    Hydrothermal vents were detected in the late 1970’s. Active sites on the sea floor have been in the focus of studies ever since. This is not surprising, given the fact that life on earth might have originated at hydrothermal vents. These sites still harbor ecosystems which are thought to be mostly independent from organic carbon synthesized with the energy of sunlight but fed instead by the oxidation energy of inorganic molecules: chemosynthesis. The aim of our study is to disentangle the food chain at hydrothermal vent sites in the Mid-Cayman Rise region. Our tool is the compound specific isotope analysis.

Emma Versteegh's Organizations

  • Geochemical Society

    • June 2012 to Present
  • Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland

    • January 2011 to Present
  • British Science Association

    • January 2011 to September 2013
  • Dutch Youth Association for Astronomy

    • January 1990 to Present
  • European Geosciences Union

    • March 2014 to Present

Emma Versteegh's Volunteer Experience & Causes

  • Volunteer Experience

    • President

      Dutch Youth Association for Astronomy
      • Science and Technology
      May 2004 May 2007 (3 years 1 month)
    • Volunteer

      Dutch Youth Association for Astronomy
      • Science and Technology
      November 1995 August 2010 (14 years 10 months)

      Organisation of astronomical gatherings;
      Leading astronomy summer camps for teenagers in the Netherlands and abroad;
      Member of the board;
      Giving presentations on astrobiology, cosmochemistry, planetology, origin of life, evolution, climate.

  • Volunteer Interests

    • Causes I care about:

      • Education
      • Environment
      • Science and Technology

Emma Versteegh's Courses

  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant

    University of Reading

    • Project management
    • Career planning
    • Supervising research students
    • Writing for publication
    • Moving to a university lectureship
    • Management skills
    • Talking effectively about your research
    • Finding funding
    • Communication skills
    • EU research funding schemes
    • Writing successful research proposals
    • Peer reviewing papers
    • Certificate in research career management
    • Networking
  • Junior Researcher

    VU University Amsterdam

    • Effective management of PhD projects - NSG
    • Laser ablation isotope analysis (S. Eggins) - NSG
    • Climate Change (W. Hay) - NSG
    • Proposal writing clinic - NSG
    • Introduction to climate modelling - ECOLMAS
    • Creative thinking - NWO
    • Scientific writing - NWO
  • Postdoctoral researcher

    Vrije Universiteit Brussel

    • French - Centrum voor Volwassenenonderwijs (2.2 & 2.3)

Emma Versteegh's Skills & Expertise

  1. Science
  2. Ecology
  3. Biogeochemistry
  4. Scientific Writing
  5. Research
  6. Environmental Science
  7. Biology
  8. Mass Spectrometry
  9. Field Work
  10. Earth Science
  11. Climate Change
  12. Geochemistry
  13. Teaching
  14. Lecturing
  15. Evolutionary Biology
  16. ICP-MS
  17. Geology
  18. Environmental Chemistry
  19. Marine Biology
  20. Mineralogy
  21. Stable Isotope Analysis
  22. Stable Isotopes
  23. Adobe Creative Suite
  24. Animal Behavior
  25. Astrobiology
  26. Carbon Cycle
  27. Carbonates
  28. Climatology
  29. Coral Reefs
  30. Curriculum Design
  31. Curriculum Development
  32. Evolution
  33. History Of Science
  34. ICP-OES
  35. Isotope Geochemistry
  36. Laser Ablation
  37. Paleoclimate
  38. Proposal writing
  39. Research design
  40. Scuba Diving
  41. SPSS
  42. XRF
  43. Science Communication
  44. Experimental Design
  45. Oceanography
  46. Academic Writing
  47. University Teaching
  48. Laboratory

View All (48) Skills View Fewer Skills

Emma Versteegh's Languages

  • English

    (Full professional proficiency)
  • Dutch

    (Native or bilingual proficiency)
  • German

    (Professional working proficiency)
  • French

    (Limited working proficiency)
  • Limburgish

    (Native or bilingual proficiency)

Emma Versteegh's Publications

Emma Versteegh's Education

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

PhD, Biogeochemistry

20052009

Thesis: Silent witnesses - Freshwater bivalves as archives of environmental variability in the Rhine-Meuse delta

Universiteit Utrecht

IVLOS postgraduate teaching degree, Biology

20042005

Utrecht University

MSc, Marine animal ecology

19982003

Theses:
Foraging behaviour and coping strategies in wild Parus major;
Darwin on human races - The visions of Gruber and De Rooij;
Migration behaviour and habitat use by tropical reef fish.

Activities and Societies: Utrecht Biologists Society (UBV)

Utrecht University

Propedeuse, Medicine

19971998

Activities and Societies: Sams medical students society

Stedelijk Gymnasium 's-Hertogenbosch

Grammar school, with honours

19911997

Emma Versteegh's Additional Information

Websites:
Interests:

Science, classical music, singing, diving, running, astronomy, stargazing, biogeochemistry, sclerochronology, astrobiology.

Groups and Associations:
Honors and Awards:

NAC 8 conferences 2006 - Poster prize
International Biology Olympiad 1997 - Bronze medal

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