Megan Fairchild

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


I am a second-year PhD student working on igneous planetary problems using experimental geochemistry with Dr. Megan Holycross. I graduated from Westminster College with my B.A. in Geology and Honors, where I worked on a wide range of projects, from seismology to geoscience education to geochemistry. My unique research background gave me the tools and experience necessary to pursue experimental work and think about geological questions from a variety of angles.

My research interests are primarily focused on the formation and differentiation of Mars, as well as Martian volcanics. My work involves looking at specific elements and characterizing how they behave during igneous processes and then using them as a proxy for temperature, pressure, and oxygen fugacity of a system. I’m currently working on a series of experiments that will better characterize Lithium partitioning in both terrestrial and Martian compositions, the goal of which is to determine whether or not Lithium degasses during volcanic eruptions. Using Lithium as a proxy for water in the Martian mantle, we hope to be able to determine if degassing is a viable mechanism to drive water to the surface of Mars.

Outside of research, I enjoy reading (yes, grad students can read for fun!), playing with my dog, and spending time doing anything and everything outdoors. I also enjoy rockhounding and anything that involves working with my hands, typically cutting and polishing the rocks and mineral specimens I collect.