Young Scientist Award

The IAG Young Scientist Award for 2023

Our Young Scientist Award is made annually for research by a young scientist that closely reflects the goals of our Association. The award aims to promote the careers of young scientists who have either developed innovative analytical methods or provided new strategies to improve data quality as applied to the chemical analysis of geological or environmental materials.

The award consists of an 18-month membership of the IAG and a cash prize of $1000 US.  The awardee will be expected to present his/her work at the 2023 Goldschmidt conference in Lyon, France where the award ceremony takes place. The registration fee for this conference will be paid as part of this award.

Eligibility is limited to scientists who are currently pursuing a higher degree in a field related to geoanalysis or who have completed their university education within the past three years. The award is based upon first-authored peer-reviewed papers published in an international journal. The candidate must be nominated by a senior scientist from the geosciences community.

Further details and a nomination form can be downloaded here. Nominations must be received by 31 October 2022.


Winners of the IAG Young Scientist Award 2022

Our Young Scientist Award was launched in 2006 as our Early Career Researcher Award. It is made annually for research by a young scientist that closely reflects the goals of our Association. The award aims to promote the careers of young scientists who have either developed innovative analytical methods or provided new strategies to improve data quality as applied to the chemical analysis of geological or environmental materials.

We are proud to announce that the winners of the 2022 IAG Young Scientist Award are Ery Hughes (Te Pū Ao | GNS Science, New Zealand) and Lei Xu (IGGCAS, Beijing, China). They will be presenting their research at the 2022 Goldschmidt conference 10-15 July. During the conference they will also be receiving their IAG awards.

Ery Hughes is a volcanic fluid geochemist in the Volcanology Team at Te Pū Ao | GNS Science, Aotearoa New Zealand. She is interested in the behaviour of volatiles in magmatic systems and particularly stable isotope fractionation during degassing. She completed her PhD at the University of Bristol in 2019, where she developed novel microanalytical techniques to analyse melt inclusions (tiny pockets of melt, trapped inside crystals as they grow in magma reservoirs) to unravel the histories of magmas prior to eruption at Etna (Italy) and Ōkataina (Aotearoa New Zealand). Using the electron microprobe, she developed high-spatial resolution techniques to determine the oxidation state of iron and “water-by-difference” in silicate glass, providing more accessible techniques for such measurements. This involved understanding the mechanisms of how silicate glass is altered during analysis with the electron probe (and other microbeam) techniques to ensure accurate results. For instance, charging from electron implantation into the glass can cause both oxidation and reduction of multivalent elements, as well as decelerating incoming electrons and thus reducing their ability to generate X-rays. She also created silicate glass standards for carbon isotope analysis and continues to develop the methodology for determining carbon isotope ratios in melt inclusions using the ion probe. When not in the lab, Ery enjoys cycling, rock climbing and skiing.

  1. Hughes et al. (2018). High spatial resolution analysis of the iron oxidation state in silicate glasses using the electron probe. American Mineralogist, 103 (9), 1473-1486.
  2. Hughes et al. (2019). Low analytical totals in EPMA of hydrous silicate glass due to sub-surface charging: Obtaining accurate volatiles by difference. Chemical Geology, 505, 48-56.

Lei Xu’s first contact with mass spectrometry was during her master’s degree at China University of Geosciences, Wuhan. She then moved to the Institute of Geology and Geophysics Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, for her PhD where she focused on the development of new strategies and methods for isotopic analyses with three main strands to her work. She set up a new protocol for Sm-Nd isotopic measurements with high spatial resolution by LA-MC-ICP-MS. This method was used to reveal the petrogenesis of the Chang’E-5 basalts, the results of which were published in Nature. She also developed a low sample-consumption leaching method for Rb-Sr isochron dating of pyrite by TIMS; this method was used to constrain the mineralization age of Pb-Zn-Au deposits in the North China Craton. Recently, she reported a new synthetic Cr standard for mass bias and isobaric interference corrections during in situ Fe isotopic analyses of Cr-rich geological samples. This methodology is likely to be of benefit to many laboratories engaged in Fe isotope analysis by LA-MC-ICP-MS. In her spare time Lei Xu enjoys field trips and relaxing with her two puppies.

  1. Xu L. et al. (2015). In situ Nd isotope analyses in geological materials with signal enhancement and non-linear mass dependent fractionation reduction using laser ablation MC-ICP-MS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 30, 232-244.
  2. Xu L. et al. (2018). Determination of Sm-Nd isotopic compositions in fifteen geological materials using laser ablation MC-ICP-MS and application to monazite geochronology of metasedimentary rock in the North China Craton. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 42, 379-394, doi:10.1111/ggr.12210.
  3. Xu L. et al. (2020). Pyrite Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd and Fe isotopic constraints on the age and genesis of the Qingchengzi Pb-Zn deposits, northeastern China. Ore Geology Reviews, 117: 103324.
  4. Xu L. et al. (2021). In situ Fe isotopic analyses of fourteen reference materials using a synthetic Cr standard for mass bias and isobaric interference corrections by femtosecond LA-MC-ICP-MS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 36, 747-757.

Winners of the IAG Young Scientist Award 2021

Alicja Wudarska is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The main focus of her research has been the development of new reference materials for isotope analysis of apatite using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). She has recently completed two projects related to chlorine and oxygen isotopes that she conducted in collaboration with the SIMS laboratory at the GFZ Potsdam. The results of her work were published recently in Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, and the metrological splits of the apatite samples described therein can be obtained through IAGeo Limited (iageo.com). Currently, Alicja and her team from the SIMS lab are working towards development of reference material(s) for U-Pb dating of apatite, and her project is being supported by an IAG Geoanalytical Research and Networking Grant.

Alicja undertook the study of new apatite reference materials in order to collect the SIMS data for her PhD project. This was focused on the investigation of geochemical processes which shaped the early Archean Isua supracrustal belt (SW Greenland), by means of hydrogen and chlorine isotope measurements in minerals of the apatite group2. In the future, she is planning to apply stable isotope analysis to bioapatite research. She is especially interested in the application of these methods to wildlife conservation.When Alicja is not working, she enjoys exploring the world with her husband as well as gardening, crafts and reading about Australian wildlife.

Tao Luo is an associate professor at China University of Geosciences, Wuhan after receiving his PhD degree. The focus of his research has been the investigation of elemental and isotopic fractionation during LA-ICP-MS analysis and development of novel non-matrix-matched methods for U-Th-Pb dating of accessory minerals.

Tao started to work in geoanalytical research during his master’s degree and was responsible for running their LA-ICP-MS lab as a student-assistant at that time. He investigated ICP-induced fractionation behaviours in LA-ICP-MS and evaluated the influence of argon and helium carrier gases on signal intensities and elemental fractionation in analysis by both ns- and fs-LA-ICP-MS. In addition, Tao has developed a novel, water vapor-assisted method3 for non-matrix-matched determination of U-Th-Pb ages in accessory minerals. This method greatly broadens the wide applications of in situ U-Th-Pb geochronology to diverse accessory minerals without the strict requirement of matrix-matched reference materials4. He applied this water vapor-assisted method for the development of in situ LA-ICP-MS wolframite U-Pb dating for the first time, which solves a very challenging question of the timing and duration of hydrothermal W mineralisation.

Currently, he is working on the development of new reference materials for microbeam analysis of U-Pb geochronology and Hf-O isotopes. When not working in the lab, Tao enjoys hiking and cycling.

1Wudarska et al. Inter‐laboratory characterisation of apatite reference materials for chlorine isotope analysis. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, doi: 10.1111/ggr.12366

2Wudarska et al. (2020). Chlorine isotope composition of apatite from the >3.7 Ga Isua Supracrustal belt, SW Greenland. Minerals, doi: 10.3390/min10010027

3Tao Luo, He Zhao, Qiuli Li, Yang Li, Wen Zhang, Jingliang Guo, Yongsheng Liu, Junfeng Zhang and Zhaochu Hu (2020). Non-matrix-matched analysis of Th-Pb ages in zircon, monazite and xenotime by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1111/ggr.12356.

4Tao Luo, Zhaochu Hu, Wen Zhang, Yongsheng Liu, Keqing Zong, Lian Zhou, Junfeng Zhang, Shenghong Hu (2018). Water vapor-assisted “universal” non-matrix-matched analytical method for the in situ U-Pb dating of zircon, monazite, titanite and xenotime by LA-ICP-MS. Analytical Chemistry, 90 (15), 9016–9024.


Winners of the IAG Young Scientist Award for 2020

Jie Lin is a post-doctoral scientist at the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan), where she majored in isotope analysis. The main focus of her research has been the development of new strategies and methods for Li isotope ratio measurements. Firstly, she provided a method to reduce the memory effect of Li during analysis. Her methodology has been applied in many international laboratories and publicised by Thermo Fisher Scientific. Secondly, she investigated the factors affecting the in situ determination of Li isotopes and developed a procedure for Li isotopic analysis by laser ablation multi-collector mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS). Thirdly, she has worked on measuring Li isotopic ratios in carbonate samples and provided accurate and precise δ7Li values for various carbonate reference materials. She has also evaluated the feasibility of Li isotopic analysis in tourmalines by LA-MC-ICP-MS using matrix-matched and non-matrix-matched calibration. Currently, she is researching methods for determining Mg and O isotope ratios by LA-MC-ICP-MS.

When Jie is not working in the laboratory, she enjoys playing badminton, cycling and walking on the East Lake Greenway in Wuhan with her baby.


Michael Weber is a post-doctoral researcher at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, in the working group of Applied and Analytical Palaeontology. He is currently investigating the fractionation of stable Sr and Ca isotopes along trophic levels in vertebrates using MC-ICP-MS techniques.

Michael first came in contact with isotope geochemistry during his work as a student assistant, where he applied 230Th/U dating to speleothem samples and performed the chemical separation as well as the mass spectrometric analyses. During his PhD, he started to work intensively on the application of Sr isotope ratios to different kind of geological materials and reference materials, especially in situ analysis using LA-MC-ICP-MS. This finally led to a publication on the development of NanoSr, a new synthetic carbonate reference material, especially designed for carbonate samples with low Sr contents. As well as the geoanalytical work, he is also involved in the reconstruction of past climate variability using speleothem, by applying a wide range of techniques and isotope systems, such as 230Th/U dating, stable carbon and oxygen isotopes, in addition to Sr isotopes. He is currently working with a Neptune Plus at the Institute of Geosciences, performing Sr and Ca isotope determinations of different kinds of biological hard and soft tissues.

When Michael is not working in the lab, he enjoys cycling, playing football and spending time with his wife and their pets.


Winner of 2019 IAG Young Scientist Award

Martijn Klaver

When Martijn received his award he was a senior research associate in isotope cosmochemistry at the University of Bristol where he studied planetary differentiation using a range of mass-dependent isotope systems. Martijn is currently working in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University, UK.

Martijn got hooked on isotope geochemistry during his geology degree at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He was responsible for running the TIMS lab as a student-assistant and quickly took on developing mass spectrometry routines and calibrating spikes for isotope dilution measurements. Development of analytical techniques remained prominent during his PhD at the same institute as he moved onto the realm of double spiking with Pb. Taking advantage of the availability of then prototype 1013 Ω resistors, he developed a technique for the high-precision measurement of ng-size Pb samples.

Martijn joined the Bristol Isotope Group in 2016 after finishing his PhD. He has developed and deployed novel methods in measuring mass-dependent isotope systems to study the differentiation of the Earth. With an optimised Ni double spike method, he has showed that Earth’s mantle is noticeably fractionated relative to chondritic meteorites, potentially reflecting a core formation signature. He has further embraced the possibilities of critical mixture double spiking for studying both Si and Mg isotopic variability at high precision and employed the capabilities of Proteus, a prototype collision cell multi-collector mass-spectrometer, to examine the Ca isotopic systematics of the Moon. When not indulging in this rich isotopic smorgasbord, Martijn enjoys hiking and playing korfball.


Winner of 2018 IAG Young Scientist Award

Alicia Cruz-Uribe

Alicia is the Edward Sturgis Grew Assistant Professor of Petrology and Mineralogy at the University of Maine. One of the primary focuses of her research is the geochemical connection between the metamorphism that occurs in subducted oceanic crust and the geochemistry of arc volcanoes, i.e. understanding the geochemical fingerprint of subduction. She is particularly interested in single element thermometry and quantifying the spatial and temporal scales of equilibrium in metamorphic rocks.

Alicia has developed a new technique for analyzing Ti in quartz by laser ablation ICP-MS, and has published papers using a wide variety of analytical techniques. Her recent work includes combining LA-ICP-MS analyses of trace elements with SIMS analyses of sulphur and oxygen isotopes in silicates and sulfides. In doing so, she hopes to constrain the composition and evolution of fluids produced during devolatilisation of subducting slabs. She is the head of the new MicroAnalytical Geochemistry and Isotope Centre (MAGIC Lab) at the University of Maine, which houses an Agilent 8900 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer and NWR193 laser ablation system.

When she is not in the lab, Alicia enjoys nordic skiing, cycling, and going out in the field to collect rocks with her colleagues, students and baby girl.

She was recently been co-opted onto the Council of the IAG, with particular responsibility for liaison with the Elements journal.

Cruz-Uribe, A.M., Feineman, M.D., Zack, T., Jacob, D., in press, Invited Review Article: Assessing trace element (dis)equilibrium and the application of single element thermometers in metamorphic rocks: Lithos.

Cruz-Uribe, A. M., Mertz-Kraus, R., Zack, T., Feineman, M. D., Woods, G., & Jacob, D. E. (2016). A New LA-ICP-MS Method for Ti in Quartz: Implications and Application to High Pressure Rutile-Quartz Veins from the Czech Erzgebirge. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 1–12. http://doi.org/10.1111/ggr.12132

Cruz-Uribe, A. M., Hoisch, T. D., Wells, M. L., Vervoort, J. D., & Mazdab, F. K. (2015). Linking thermodynamic modelling, Lu-Hf geochronology and trace elements in garnet: new P-T-t paths from the Sevier hinterland. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 33(7), 763–781. http://doi.org/10.1111/jmg.12151

Cruz-Uribe, A. M., Feineman, M. D., Zack, T., & Barth, M. (2014). Metamorphic reaction rates at ~650-800 °C from diffusion of niobium in rutile. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 130, 63–77. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2013.12.015


Winners of 2017 IAG Young Scientist Award

Both winners presented their work at the 2017 Goldschmidt conference in Paris. For more details, see https://goldschmidt.info/2017/medalsView

Dorothea Macholdt

Dorothea successfully completed her PhD studies at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany in May 2017. Her thesis “Interdisciplinary Research on Rock Varnish” combined chemical, biological, geochemical, mineralogical and atmospheric data.

During her research she was involved in developing new techniques for the analysis of atmospheric dust samples and rock varnish, characterising reference materials and conducting portable XRF measurements at sites of historical interest. She has already made substantial contributions to ongoing scientific investigations and is first author of four publications in international journals (see below).

When she is not working hard at her studies, Dorothea enjoys the outdoor life either hiking or cycling.

Macholdt, D.S., Jochum, K.P., Stoll, B., Weis, U. and Andreae, M.O. (2014). A new technique to determine element amounts down to femtograms in dust using femtosecond laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Chemical Geology, 383, 123-131.

Macholdt, D., Jochum, K., Pöhlker, C., Stoll, B., Weis, U., Weber, B., Müller, M., Kappl, M., Buhre, S., Kilcoyne, A., Weigand, M., Scholz, D., Al-Amri, A.M., Andreae, M.O. (2015). Microanalytical methods for in-situ high-resolution analysis of rock varnish at the micrometer to nanometer scale. Chemical Geology, 411, 57-68.

Macholdt, D.S., Jochum, K.P., Wilson, S.A., Otter, L.M., Stoll, B., Weis, U. and Andreae, M.O. (2016). Suitability of Mn‐and Fe‐Rich Reference Materials for Microanalytical Research. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 40, 493-504.

Macholdt, D.S., Jochum, K.P., Pöhlker, C., Arangio, A., Förster, J.D., Stoll, B., Weis, U., Weber, B., Müller, M., Kappl, M., Shiraiwa, M., Kilcoyne, A.L.D., Weigand, M., Scholz, D.,   Haug, G., and Andreae, M.O. (2017)  Characterization and differentiation of rock varnish types from different environments by microanalytical techniques. Chemical Geology, 459, 91-118.


Peter Onuk

Peter has been a PhD student at the Department of Geology and Economic Geology, Montanuniversität, Leoben, Austria since 2014.

The subject of his thesis is the potential exploitation of high-technology elements in sphalerite from Eastern Alpine Pb-Zn ore deposits. His research has involved the analysis of sphalerite (ZnS) using LA-ICP-MS, which necessitated the development of suitable reference materials for calibration of the LA-ICP-MS system. Peter devised a sintering technique to produce homogenous ZnS materials doped with a wide range of trace elements, which was published in Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research in 20161.

In addition, he developed a cost-efficient method for sulphur isotope measurements by LA-ICP-MS, using N2O as the reaction gas in an ICP-MS/MS system (paper in preparation).  The reference materials he developed, MUL-ZnS1 and MUL-ZnS2, have been distributed to many other laboratories, as the demand for such materials in research related to ore geology continues to grow. When he is not in the lab, Peter enjoys cave diving and renovating a 300 year old mill.

1Onuk, P., Melcher F., Mertz-Kraus, R., Gäbler, H-E. and Goldmann, S. (2016). Development of a matrix-matched sphalerite reference material (MUL-ZnS-1) for calibration of in situ trace element measurements by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research 41(2), 263-272.


Winners of the IAG Early Career Researcher Award  2006 – 2014

2014 – Corey Wall

2013 – Satoki Okabayashi

2012 – Marcela Camargo

2011 – Leah Morgan

2010 – Regina Mertz-Kraus

2009 – Adrien Maestrot

2008 – Alon Amrani

2007 – Jérôme Chmeleff

2006 – Malka Machlus