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Principal Investigator

Current Researchers


Augustus Bates

I am a Ph.D. candidate, studying under Dr. Suniti and Dr. Lorenzo here at LSU. My research focus is on Mars, specifically what effect regional surficial processes have on observed chemistry. The main tool I use for this research is Gamma Ray Spectroscopy (GRS) data, which has sampling depths sufficient enough to examine the bulk chemistry of the martian soil. In addition, I’m also interested in applying terrestrial seismic investigation techniques to a martian context. The shallow regolith of Mars is beginning to be studied in detail, and will play a major role for future missions to Mars. As such, understanding how we can use both the soil and what it stores, such as water or ice, to our advantage is essential.

Graduate Research Assistant


Graduate Research Assistant

 Alka Rani (Goswami)

I am a pursuing my PhD at Planetary Science Division, Physical Research Laboratory, India. I came to LSU, as a visiting doctoral student to work with Dr Karunatillake. While at PSL, my work focuses on re-examining the chemically distinct regions on Mars, using three different geographic information system (GIS) multivariate statistical methods and discuss geochemical distinctness in new highlighted regions. Another project, I am associated with petrological modelling of Noachian aged Martian volcanic provinces.


I am a recent graduate of Wesleyan University with a degree in Earth and Environmental Science and a focus in planetary geology via my senior honors thesis. I am currently a NASA SUPPR intern working with PSL on a project combining Gamma Ray Spectroscopy (GRS) data with Thermal Emission Spectroscopy (TES) data from Mars to develop a global mineralogical 

understanding of Mars, and interpret how chemical data aligns with volcanic and aqueous Martian processes.

Emmy Hughes

Research Assistant

Research Assistant

Yutong Shi

I'm currently a graduate student from China University of Geosciences, where I got my B.S. in Geology in 2019. While with the PSL team, I'll be doing a dissertation project on determining the correlation between grain size and composition of Gale soil.

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I am currently pursuing my PhD at Louisiana State University (LSU), where I work with LSU's Planetary Science Lab. I study the aerial abundance of inverted paleochannels over the landscape of Aeolis Dorsa to interpret the mechanism of the landscape variation and to determine the nature of the relationship between these variations and the regional paleoshoreline. Besides martian channel avulsions, I'm also researching the kinetic pathway of brines on Ceres to examine the chemical reaction of the brines on the surface and the evolution of the Cerean ocean.

Graduate Research Assistant

Xiao Tan

Research Assistant


Sasha Culvahouse

SUPPR Intern

I am going into my last year at Tulane University, majoring in Earth and Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies with a minor in Urban Studies. In addition, I am receiving a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. I am currently a NASA SUPPR intern working with PSL; my project focuses on a series of proposed super volcanic paterae in Northwest Arabia, Mars. Using SHARAD radargrams and the CO-SHARPS processing boutique I am exploring the geomorphological properties of these features and how they interact with the radar sounding instruments.

Natalie L Alvarez

SUPPR Intern

I am in my last year of a BS in Geophysics at

the Jackson School of Geosciences at the

University of Texas at Austin. I am working

with PSL on a project that developed out of

my internship with NASA SUPPR. This project

involves determining thresholds for burial

lithification in Amazonian Mars and

understanding the role of nanophase iron

oxide on the cohesion of Martian soils. I am

also interested in the material properties

imparted to lunar soil by nanophase elemental

iron and the unique environments created by

space weathering. 

Current Collaborators



Don graduated with his PhD in Geology from LSU in 2019. He is interested in the intersection of geology, remote sensing, and data science, utilizing techniques from all three fields to explore the solar system. His work straddles both the scientific and exploratory sides of planetary work, seeking to understand the geological processes that form and influence planetary surfaces, while also trying to classify and examine surfaces in preparation for human and robotic exploration.

Cameron Gernant


I am an undergraduate at LSU pursuing a B.S. in Geology. I gained an interest in Earth and planetary sciences while working after high school in the meteorological sciences.


Gayantha Kodikara

I am working as a lecturer at University of Ruhuha, Sri Lanka, after completion of my BSc (in Geology) Sri Lanka and two Master degrees in ITC, The Netherlands, and IIRS/Andra University, India. My main research interest on finding environments with exobiology potential on Mars using imaging and non-imaging spectroscopy along with Mars analog environments on Earth led me to join with LSU as a remote collaborator.




Inter-institutional Collaborations

Former Collaborators

Dara Laczniak

Research Assistant

After graduating with a B.S. in Geology from UNLV (Dec. 2016), I came to LSU as a summer 2017 NASA PGGURP intern to gain more research experience prior to attending graduate school. While at PSL, I studied halogen distributions in Gale Crater, Gusev Crater, and Meridiani Planum soils using MSL and MER rover data. Through geochemical and sedimentological analysis, I examined the influence of atmospheric and aqueous process on altering martian soil chemistry.  

Binlong Ye

Research Assistant

I am a visiting undergraduate student from China's University of Geosciences pursuing a B.S. in Geology. My interested is Planetary Science, especially in the Martian climate and mineralogy, planetary surface process and the origin of life. At LSU, I am working with Professor J.R. Skok in studying the central peak on Mars using VNIR spectrocopy data.

Taylor Judice

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I'm an LSU undergraduate pursuing a B.S. degree in Geology. For a while now, I've enjoyed exploring the geology of new and unfamiliar areas on Earth. Studying the importance of elemental distributions on the surface of Mars has provided an exciting challenge for myself as geologist.

Wellinton Mauricio

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I’m an undergraduate exchange student who worked at LSU during the summer of 2015. I’m pursuing the major Petroleum Engineering at Universidade Federal do Amazonas in Brazil, which I expect graduate in the end of 2015.


Franciele Marcelina

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student from the Brazilian exchange program, doing Summer Research at LSU. Next year I will be completing my major in Petroleum Engineering at Universidade Catolica de Santos, Brazil.

Anthony Maue 

Research Assistant

I graduated with my B.A. in Geophysics and Planetary Science from Boston University in 2016. Before continuing to graduate school at the University of Tennessee, I came to LSU as a NASA PGGURP summer intern to investigate the sedimentology of Gale Crater from MSL data.

Thuy-Mai Nguyen

Website Designer

I am an undergraduate 

dual degree at LSU.  This fall, 

I will be completing my majors 

in Anthropology (B.A.) and Biological Sciences (B.S.) as well as my  minor degree in Chemistry.   

Wildson Melo 

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student, who has been in the United States for one year, being part of an exchange program. My major is Petroleum Engineering, and I did research at PSL during the summer of 2015. After this period I returned to Brazil, and finished my major at Universidade Federal de Sergipe.


Nicholas Olsen

Research Assistant

I  graduated from Yale University in 2009 as a biology major and worked in the field for three years before returning to LSU for a second undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. My interest in exploration drew me to the PSL team.

Viviane de Oliveira

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student from Brazil, working on a Research at the LSU Geology Department during the summer time. My major is Petroleum Engineering and I am in my third year of college at Universidade Federal Rural do Semi Arido in Brazil.


Lucas Ribeiro

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Currently I am studying here in US through the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP), which gave me the opportunity to develop my english skills and attend undergraduate classes. And, as a last task I got the undergraduate opportunity here at PSL, where I hope to achieve good knowledge over the summer.

My actual major is Petroleum Engineering in which I am a senior student

Lorrie Carnes

Research Assistant

I graduated from Lehigh University in 2016 with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science (concentrations in tectonic geomorphology and paleomagnetism). I spent the summer at LSU as a NASA PGGURP summer intern to investigate the geochemistry of martian volcanic provinces. 


Suniti Karunatillake

Associate Professor

Expertise in planetary critical zones, specialized in the synthesis of remote and in situ sensing data in the areas of statistical analyses, photoanalysis, soil sedimentology, regolith hydration, halogen cycle, and igneous processes. Interpreting chemical maps derived from the 2001 Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray and neutron spectrometer Suite (GRS). Mars mission concept development (2021 a, b, c), Mars Mission payload development [e.g., 2016] and planetary pedology [e.g., 2020].

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