I completed a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences here at the UEA in 2009 before starting a PhD in 2011. My MSc. dissertation focused on developing a probabilistic method for determining the distribution of habitable extrasolar planets around low mass M-type stars.
I am also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the European Association of Geochemistry (EAG). I enjoy science writing and outreach, and I am an invited blogger on the EAG’s blog (http://blog.eag.eu.com) whilst also maintaining a personal blog (http://www.andrewrushby.com) where I write about astrobiology and exoplanets.
Key Research Interests
My main research interests are in the fields of biogeochemistry and planetary habitability, in particular the history of the oxygen inventory of the Earth and how different factors affect the rise or decline of oxygen in planetary atmospheres. I am also interested in the emerging field of exoplanetary science and the use of habitability metrics and indices as a means of analysing and comparing the potential of these planets for supporting life.
My PhD is formed around constructing Earth-system scale computer models to investigate the biogeochemical processes taking place both on the Earth and extrasolar planets. These models are driven by our understanding of the coupling between the large-scale, long term geological, chemical and biological processes that operate on the Earth, and how these feedback loops affect, and are affected by, the planetary environment. The inputs for this kind of model are derived from empirical evidence in the form of proxies: generally isotope ratios, biomarkers and geochemical signatures preserved in ancient rocks.
By stripping away the engrained complexity and rigidity of the models previously developed in this area I hope to be able to produce an effective yet flexible means of visualising and understanding the factors that control the abundance of atmospheric oxygen, and how these processes may differ under different planetary conditions.
Dwell Time Index – a new habitability metric for Astrobiology. Session: Development of Quantitative Habitability Assessments for Earth, the Solar System, and Exoplanets. NASA Astrobiology Science Conference. Atlanta, GA. USA (15- 20 April 2012).
Research Group Membership
My supervisory team consists of Professor Andrew Watson and Dr Mark Claire, both at the UEA.