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Dr. Elizabeth Sklute

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Research Scientist

Currently resides in MA
ecsklute [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Earth, Enceladus, Europa, Exoplanets, Mars, Titan
Disciplines/Techniques: Astrobiology, Mineralogy, Numerical modeling, Raman Spectroscopy, Spectroscopy
Instruments: FTIR, Spectrometers

Research Interests

Hapke radiative transfer modelling: In order to quantitatively determine mineral abundances from mixed VNIR spectra, where spectral response in not linear with abundance, the real and imaginary indices of refraction, n and k, must be known. I have developed open-source Matlab code to determine these optical constants and am currently using multiple grain sizes of pure, well characterized, common planetary materials to add these constants to add to the optical constant data bases.

UV thru MIR, Raman, and Mossbauer spectral properties of abiotic and biogenic nanophase iron oxides and hydroxides: In order to detect spectral biosignatures, spectral characteristics of biominerals and their abiotic mimics must be fully understood. In collaboration with PSI member Darby Dyar and UMass Microbiologist James Holden, I synthesize and spectrally characterize nanophase iron oxides and hydroxides produced through abiotic synthesis and through microbial bioreduction and biooxidation. We primarily work with hyperthermophiles, which represent ancient metabolisms.

UV thru MIR, Raman, and Mossbauer spectral properties of amorphous ferric sulfate and amorphous mixed salts: Sulfur and Iron abundance in the XRD amorphous fraction of the martian regolith has led to the multiple hypotheses as to the consituent phases. One hypothesis is that iron and sulfur are bound in amorphous ferric sulfates, which can be produces through rapid dehydration of concentrated ferric sulfate-bearing brines. In collaboration with Deanne Rogers at Stony Brook University, I investigate the spectral and morphological properties of these amorphous phases across variable brine composition.

Professional History

BA in Geochemistry from Mount Holyoke College (2006)

MS in Chemsitry from The Pennsylvania State University (2010)

PhD in Geoscience from Stony Brook University (2014)

Post Doctoral Fellowship at Mount Holyoke College (2014-2017)

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