Emma Bullock, from the Earth & Planets Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science, shares her background, research interests, and what kind of information her EM experiments yield. She speaks about helping users collect data on samples as varied as high-pressure products, new materials, extraterrestrial materials, and sometimes even rocks from Earth.

Innovators in Electron Microscopy

Dr. Emma Bullock

“Our field emission SEM has a very good electron column and the tool has a back scatter detector and an EDS system. It’s quite user friendly and it’s been very stable and very reliable. It will go literally months without having a problem.”

Dr. Emma Bullock
Electron Microprobe Lab Manager
Geochemistry and Meteoritics
6 Years ZEISS-Specific EM Experience

My background is in the study of meteorites – I have a B.Sc. in Geochemistry from the University of Manchester, and a Ph.D. in Meteoritics from the Open University/Natural History Museum in London. For my graduate studies, I looked at the interaction between fluids and sulfide minerals on primitive asteroids. Subsequently, I moved to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC for a post-doctoral position, to study the mineralogy and isotopic signatures of the first-forming solids (known as calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions) in our solar system. Throughout my research career, I have utilized electron microscopy to study the textures and chemistry of my samples. Now at Carnegie, I run the electron probe microanalyzer and the scanning electron microscope laboratories and help users to collect data on samples as varied as high-pressure experimental run products, new materials, extraterrestrial materials, and sometimes even rocks from Earth.

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What is a normal day for you?

“In my current role, I help a lot of different researchers. On any given day I’ll be looking at rocks from the moon or help scientists to analyze their homemade little planets. Which is very cool. We also have materials scientists who are creating new kinds of materials, answering questions about how we can best preserve and conserve energy. Occasionally I do public outreach too. So on any given day, there is really a lot of different things I could be doing in the lab.”

For decades ZEISS FE-SEM has been enabling researchers with differing levels of EM experience. This holds true for facilities with diverse research applications and sample types. Here, Dr. Bullock speaks on what research is being performed at the Earth & Planets Lab, and the EM tools she uses daily on various projects.

Are there any projects you’d like to highlight?

"One of the projects I’m involved in right now that is so exciting to me is – I’m actually looking at rocks from the moon. These are rocks that were collected by the Apollo astronauts 50 years ago. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landings those rocks are being held in a special storage environment for the last 50 years waiting for technological advances. During the last year the scientists who work at the Johnson Space Center have been going through and opening up these samples and allocating them. We have particles that were collected on the moon and have context for where they came from, which is something we don’t always have with rocks from space! We’re using our scanning electron microscope and our electron microprobes to look at these samples that no one has seen before. They’ve sat around on the moon and then sat around in labs just waiting for someone to unlock their secrets and we’re just beginning to. So, that is something I’m involved with in a consortium with other scientists because it takes a village to collect all the data. These particles are so precious that we really want to get every last bit of science out that we can. So that’s personally very, very exciting.”

Meteorites Blended Together
Phyllosilicate Clay Created from Anhydrous Meteorite

You mentioned that you really enjoyed our virtual booth. Can you elaborate on that?

“The ZEISS booth at M&M, I have to say, is amazing. It was like the closest thing to being able to be in person because you could move around and click on instruments to learn about them. It was, to be honest, I think the best thought out virtual booth of any of them – really imaginative!

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