My research focusses on the mineralogy and geochemistry of igneous rocks and associated rare metal deposits. In April 2021 I started as an assistant professor in the Ore Geology and Geofluids group at KU Leuven and as senior researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa. In this role my research focusses on granitic pegmatite and quartz vein hosted Sn-W-Ta-Nb-Li mineralisation in the Mesoproterozoic Karagwe-Ankole Belt in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, and continue research on alkaline and carbonatite hosted REE-P-Zr mineralisation.
I was born and raised in a small town in South Holland, stereotypically Dutch: a few meters below sea level and surrounded by cows and windmills. I studied Earth Sciences at the VU University Amsterdam, where I completed my BSc in 2009 and my MSc in 2012 in the research group of Prof Gareth Davies. Immediately after graduating I started my PhD at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the University of Copenhagen, under the supervision of Prof. Tod Waight, Dr Troels Nielsen, and Dr Henrik Friis.
My PhD thesis focussed on the complex magmatic and hydrothermal evolution of highly peralkaline nepheline syenites in the rift-related Gardar province in South Greenland, specifically looking at REE-Zr-Nb mineralisation (metals we need for modern technologies). I defended in June 2016, shortly after which I moved to Scotland to start a postdoc at the University of St Andrews with Prof. Adrian Finch.
As a postdoc I continued to work on eudialyte-hosted REE deposits in South Greenland, and various other mineral deposits, initially as part of the NERC funded SoS RARE consortium. The SoS RARE project was a UK-based consortium with partners at the University of Brighton, Leeds, Sheffield, Exeter (Camborne School of Mines) and the BGS. The aim of the project was to bring together mineralogists, geochemists and metallurgists to improve our understanding of the processes by which metals get concentrated into rocks to levels at which they can be mined, and to use this information to develop environmentally friendly and economically viable ways to extract the metals from these resources.
I am particularly interested in how late-magmatic fluids evolve and modify the primary mineralogy, and how this influences the processing steps required to extract the metals from the rock. I use radiogenic isotopes (U-Pb, Sm-Nd, Rb-Sr, Lu-Hf) to trace subsolidus mobility of elements and to fingerprint the source of critical metal enrichment. I also use various mineral chemical techniques, such as EMP, XRD, and synchrotron-based X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, to characterise the structure and elemental composition of minerals. As part of SoSRARE I have also worked on heavy rare earth enriched Ion Adsorption Deposits in weathered igneous rocks from Madagascar and China with collaborators from the University of Brighton and the British Geological Survey.
In St Andrews I’ve been involved in teaching undergrad level BSc, MGeol and MSc courses in magmatic ore deposits and igneous petrology, demonstrating lab practicals in optical microscopy, field-mapping courses (Mull & Rum), and supervised various dissertation projects.
I was awarded the 2021 Max Hey Medal from the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, for my contributions in mineralogy and petrology, as well as the 2021 R.A. Howie Best Paper Award for our paper entitled “Structural state of rare earth elements in eudialyte-group minerals” in Mineralogical Magazine – which combined synchrotron techniques and lattice strain theory to identify where rare earth elements sit inside the crystal structure of eudialyte.