Flore Van Maldeghem

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My story

When I was 18, I chose to study geology. My main incentive was my fascination for space and planets. Not the calculations and physics behind them, but the processes that created and occur on these diverse worlds. Geology turned out the best option to combine different branches of science like chemistry, physics and biology to understand the world and beyond.

Three years in, I hadn’t learned that much about space and other planets yet, but I had an increasing knowledge about planet Earth and processes like plate tectonics, volcanism, and other geological principles. I continued with a bachelor project on lake sediments from Nepal in an attempt to understand the local earthquake history, with potential prospects on predicting the future of earthquakes in this area.

My first master year I spent in Tromsø, Norway, where I fell in love with the north. I still return to Lapland every year. This was also the first step in expanding my world view and independence. I got to know many new people, learned new skills, both professionally and personally and most of all, I got to know myself a lot better. During this year, micrometeorites came across my path for the first time in the list of master thesis topics . I knew immediately that topic would be mine. I continued with my second master year under the guidance of Steven Goderis and Philippe Claeys as I entered the intriguing world of meteorites and micrometeorites. After finishing my masters at the top of my class, I continued working with Steven and Philippe, now as a PhD student.

My focus remains on extraterrestrial material. Most of the minerals present in extraterrestrial material weather away relatively quickly and do not survive geological timescales, limiting reconstructions of the extraterrestrial stream through time. Among the minerals present, the spinel group is most resistant to alteration, and consequently constitutes the bestpreserved extraterrestrial phase. The primary aim of my project is to characterize this mineral in meteorites, micrometeorites and impact material. This knowledge will better constrain the origin of sedimentary relict spinels that are preserved over geological time. This way, I try to create a clear baseline to document possible changes in the extraterrestrial stream over extended geological timescales.