Tutors and Colleges

The Department of Earth Sciences has undergraduate tutors in seven Colleges. Many of these Colleges have additional non-tutorial fellows who teach on the undergraduate course as well as pursuing their own research interest.


Professor Conall Mac Niocaill provides first years with an introduction to the Fundamentals of Geology and Planet Earth, as well as leading their first field trip to Pembroke. He also teaches Geophysics, Geochronology and Palaeomagnetism, and leads field courses to Arran, Scotland.

Dr Paula Koelemeijer, is a seismologist  interested in using seismic waves to understand the world around us, ranging from planetary-scale processes to social seismology. She finds it fascinating that the tiny signals recorded at the Earth’s surface allow us to answer fundamental questions about its deep interior, and yet also provide detailed information about human and animal behaviour.

St Anne’s

Dr Don Porcelli, Associate Professor of Geochemistry and Ferreras Willetts Fellow in Earth Sciences uses trace element distributions and isotope ratios to provide a better understanding of planetary composition and formation, weathering, ocean geochemistry and reconstruction of palaeoenvironments. Don teaches early history of the Solar System, basic aqueous chemistry, radiogenic isotope geochemistry, and mathematical methods in Earth Sciences.

Dr Stuart Robinson, Associate Professor of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, uses field and lab observations to understand past environments, past climates and the impacts of major environmental change, in order to test predictive models of future climate scenarios and inform the debate about the likely consequences of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Professor David Pyle is a volcanologist who teaches courses in igneous petrology, volcanology and igneous petrogenesis in all four years of the undergraduate course. He is involved in course design and delivery for Oxford’s NERC-funded graduate programme, the Doctoral Training Partnership in Environmental Research, and contributes to the outreach programme of Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA) and Oxford Sparks.

Professor Richard Katz specialises in the fluid dynamics of geophysical processes. He brings his research into the undergraduate course in the form of geodynamics, physical thermodynamics and mathematical problem-solving.

St Edmund Hall

Professor Claire Nichols uses magnetism as a novel tool to understand Earth and planetary formation, the environment of early Earth and planetary habitability. By interrogating the magnetic signals preserved by ancient terrestrial and extraterrestrial materials much insight can be gained as to how our solar system and planet formed and how life subsequently emerged.

St Hugh’s

Professor Erin Saupe, Associate Professor of Palaeobiology and tutorial fellow, is a palaeobiologist working to investigate interactions between life and environments over geological time scales: exploring the origin, maintenance, and conservation of biodiversity, understanding controls on community and species’ responses to environmental change & assessing how climate change might impact the Earth’s biodiversity.

Professor Chris Ballentine, Professorial Fellow and Chair of Geochemistry, uses his research on the properties of noble gases to understand the origin and formation of our solar system, life and the planet we live on. He applies this research to address some of society’s most pressing issues such as resource discovery, safe waste disposal, and understanding environmental change.

St Peter’s

Professor Bob Hilton, is a geochemist who studies the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and rocks, and how these carbon transfers respond to and drive climate change. His research quantifies how erosion and weathering processes act as CO2 sinks, and COsources, and transfer CO2 between the atmosphere, hydrosphere and oceans, and long-term, geological storage in sedimentary deposits.

Dr Richard Palin, Associate Professor of Petrology, Areas of current research focus include the physico-chemical effects of fluid–rock and melt–rock interaction in different geological environments, the petrology of meteorites and other rocky bodies in our solar system, and how tectonic and metamorphic processes and products have changed on each though geological time.

Professor Joe Cartwright, Shell Professor of Earth Sciences, provides insight into Earth Resources as part of the third year undergraduate course. He helps lead fieldwork in Pembrokeshire, Dorset and Spain, and provides research projects for fourth years wishing to pursue 3D seismic basin modelling in the Shell Laboratory.

University College

Professor James Bryson’s research focuses on using meteorites and ancient terrestrial samples to study the evolution of the early solar system and the first planetary bodies. Recently, his work has involved using the magnetism recorded by meteorites to place the formation locations of their parent bodies throughout the solar system and reconciling the isotopic signatures of different meteorites to better understand the very earliest stages of solid formation in the solar system.

Professor Tamsin Mather is a volcanologist who teaches on the first year Physics, Chemistry and Biology course as well as Volcanology, Igneous Processes and Petrogenesis in the third year. In fourth year, Tamsin brings to life her research specialisms with an option of Topics in Volcanology.

Professor Gideon Henderson, Head of Department, is a geochemist researching climate change and the carbon cycle. Gideon teaches courses on the Carbon Cycle in second year, Atmosphere and Hydrosphere in third year, and Pattern and Process in Pleistocene Climate in the fourth year.


Professor Mike Searle is an expert on the tectonic evolution of mountain belts, in particular processes associated with subduction, ophiolite formation and obduction, folding and thrusting, regional metamorphism and crustal melting. Mike brings his expertise from mapping the Alpine-Himalayan belt, the Karakoram ranges and Tibetan Plateau region and Southeast Asia into the undergraduate course Anatomy of a Mountain Belt, taught in the fourth year. He also leads the undergraduate Field Trip to North West Scotland.

Professor Hauke Marquardt is a tutorial fellow at Worcester College. Hauke’s research focuses on the experimental exploration of material properties at extreme pressure and temperature conditions typical for planetary interiors. The goal of his research is to understand and quantify processes occurring deep inside the Earth, processes that ultimately relate to surface plate tectonics and the habitability of our planet.

Teaching, Tutorials and Demonstrators

Please note, the list of Tutorial Fellows is not an exhaustive list of the people who offer lectures and tutorials. Undergraduate teaching is provided by a combination of suitable specialists from the list of Faculty, Researchers and sometimes Postgraduate Students. Postgrads also provide back-up support to the lecturers, working as demonstrators in practical workshops and on field trips.

Choosing Your College

The Oxford Collegiate system can seem quite mind-boggling for newcomers to the city and the prospect of having to select one during your application might feel daunting. You can state a preference for a particular college on your application form, or you can do an open application and one will be assigned for you. Ultimately, what matters is the course you apply for. If you apply to Earth Sciences and are successful in securing a place on the course, you will have secured a place at one of our seven colleges.

For more information about Oxford Colleges, see the video below: