Amy J. V. Riches
Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (and see who joins in!).

Amy walk

Planetary Scientist and Geologist, Educator
Isotope Cosmo/Geochemist and Petrologist
Writer and Editor
Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advocate (link)

Research goal: How do habitable (Earth-like) worlds form and evolve?

My personal professional interests concern the fundamental origin(s) and evolution of rocky bodies. In particular, my research and scholarship has the aim of advancing understanding of the behaviour of planetary magmas, rocky body interior / melt compositions and planetary histories, as well as the evolution of solar systems. The findings of my quantitative petrological, geochemical, and high-precision isotopic work on meteorites (+/- Earth’s mantle and melt rocks, and their links to planetary volcanic activity, chemical cycles, and secular evolution) are furthered via collaborations in computational astrophysics and melt thermodynamics. In so doing, these studies improve our understanding of the genetics and evolutionary histories of bodies in the context of their celestial settings, which together determine their potential for habitability.

Earth is the only planet that we presently know with certainty to be home to complex and intelligent life, and as such our home world represents a critical reference in developing theoretical frameworks to aid in the search for life across the universe. This is an especially pertinent area of study due to the heralding of a wealth of new observational astronomy findings arising from the latest generation of telescopes and space observatories. The types of rock and mineral chemical data, and related material property findings, which my work generates can also inform safe and ethical practices for the creation of off-Earth tools, and the harvesting of a range of resources via space mining or other means. Hence, my work provides some of the knowledge required to support the needs of further space exploration and the development of sustainable off-Earth habitats. I am also an advocate for the ethical governance of our activities in space at a time of rapidly accelerating  public and private sector interest. Matters fuelled in no small part by the ongoing and staggering advances in the technical capabilities of aerospace and space mission sectors that align with the timely expansion in spaceports / launch sites around the globe. The ecological and environmental consequences of our time as ‘could-do-better’ custodians of Earth demonstrates our need and responsible obligations to better manage our activities in space while also improving approaches to live sustainably on our home world.

Main Research Themes     Books     Kind and Inclusive Community Cultures     Activities    Blog
Scholar     ORCID     Researcher ID
2021, Featured in the Geochemical Society’s Meet-the-Scientist series
2021, “Uniting to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Pandemic and Post-pandemic World“, EAG

2020, “Writing for Change”, European Association of Geochemistry
2020, Spotlight with the American Geophysical Union
2020 Profile, National Geographic Explorer
2019, Interview, American Astronomical Society
CV available on request.
Available for scientific and media enquiries. Contact form below.
2022, Meeting Info – Forming and Exploring Habitable Worlds.

Career summary: There is no cure for curiosity.

Writer and Editor.
Various books concerning planetary and space science under way and under contract – advanced academic texts and popular science.
SETI Affiliate Scientist, Carl Sagan Centre, USA.
Visiting Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Founding Member (1 of 14) and Co-Chair, European Association of Geochemistry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. 
Some of our recently-founded team’s activities are conducted in partnership with the DEI Working Group of the Geochemical Society. We go further together. Thus, we are presently considering formalising wider collaborations and endorsements beneficial to our DEI remit, and advantageous to the reach required to bring change beneficial for all.

Analytical Geochemist
University of Glasgow, UK.
6 months and not active research.

**It should be noted that I enjoy the gains of purposefully diversified careers as well as respect of STEMinism and matters of equity. In terms of belief, my view is that the multi-faceted work that we do for the good of the world is an inherently collaborative endeavour. I have opted to leave active research twice, most recently in 2017. Though my path has been discontinuous with respect to academia, I remain engaged in science at all times and contribute new findings as commitments allow. I have benefited from this purposefully varied path because it has permitted me to acquire additional scholarly and broad professional skills, as well as friendly networks, aligned with my future research and long-term career goals. Working in a variety of different ways is an important and natural part of what we do. Disability is a social construct, and such status is one among others protected by law.**

Marie Curie Individual Fellowship – “PGE PLANETS”
Arthur Holmes Laboratories, Durham University, UK.
Returned to academia and research as a PI funded by the European Commission.

National Geographic Explorer and Eco-building Project Manager
Edmonton, Canada.
PI to National Geographic Society Waitt Grant.
Not academic research employ.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow and contract Lecturer
Canadian Centre for Isotopic Microanalysis, University of Alberta, Canada.
With Canadian Excellence in Research Chair, Prof. D. Graham Pearson
Research and building some of the largest laboratories of their kind in the world.

Pre-doctoral and Post-doctoral  Research Associate.
Planetary Geosciences Institute, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA.
With PGI Director and late Distinguished Professor Lawrence A. Taylor.

Ph.D Isotope geochemistry and igneous petrology.
Open University, UK.
Full NERC scholarship.

MSc Geological Sciences, first class honours.
Durham University, UK.
Published undergraduate research.

Students supervised / trained / mentored include:

  • Co-Supervisor to Dr. Nicola Mari, Ph.D candidate, U of Glasgow, doctorate completed 2020.
    “Understanding the formation and evolution of Mars.”
    Recipient of the Meteoritical Society’s 2019 Brian Mason Award.
    Now Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Pavia, Italy.
  • Dr. Chao Wang. Visiting Chinese Doctoral Scholar, U of Durham, UK – completed 2017.
    Now Lecturer at China University of Geosciences, Beijing.
  • Dr. Katie Singer. Planetary Science Ph.D , U of TN, USA – completed 2016.
    Now Senior Policy Analyst for the U of TN’s Office of Institutional Research.
  • Laura Brin. MSc, U of Alberta, Canada – successful 2016.
  • Further, I have a strong interest in mentoring others and have supported the training of a number of other excellent and successful doctoral (5+), masters-level (3+), and undergraduate students (8+) who have gone on to a range of careers that they love.
  • In teaching undergraduate and graduate classes I have drawn a sense of reward in contributing more broadly to the education of the next generation of potential problem solvers and decision makers, and in doing so I thoroughly enjoy embedding independence and getting the best out of others.

Professional Affiliations: Member of the Meteoritical Society, Geochemical Society, European Association of Geochemistry, American Geophysical Union, Marie Curie Alumni Association, Royal Astronomical Society [Fellow],  Royal Society of Chemistry [MRSC], American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences, Inspiring Futures and Inspiring Governance,  STEM NET Ambassador, the Secure World Foundation, UK Planetary Forum, Moon Dialogs, the Lunar and Lunar policy lists, Federation of Writers, Association of British Science Writers and more. 

My other interests include a cat called Ninja, calm quiet crafts, walks, reading, eco-conscious living, basketball, and a range of charitable contributions.

“Without freedom of choice there is no creativity” Cpt. Kirk, Star Trek.