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Staff Profile and Contact Details

Dr Karen Olsson-Francis

Aurora Research Fellow

Department of Physical Sciences


  • 2001-2004: PhD in Microbiology, University of Otago, New Zealand

  • 1995-1999: B.Sc (Hons) in Microbiology, Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom

Teaching Interests

  • Associate Lecturer on S104

  • Group Tutor on SX103 (residential school)

  • Contributed to the Empire of the Microbes short course


Research Interests

  • Survival of microorganisms in extreme environments

  • Microbe-mineral interactions

  • The use of microorganisms in space applications

  • Microbial weathering

Current Research

I am currently working as a PDRA on a (Science and Technology Facilities Council) STFC funded project titled ‘Investigations of the Interplanetary Transfer of Microorganisms’. This project includes both ground and space based experiments. The ground based work investigates the effect of Mars simulated conditions, UV and vacuum on the survival of microorganisms. The space based work is part of the ESA funded BIOPAN VI and EXPOSE missions, and is aimed at investigating the effect of exposure to low Earth orbit on the survival of microorganisms. I am also investigating the sequestering of bio-essential elements from volcanic rocks to determine the use of microorganisms in space applications.

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Faculty of Science
Department of Physical Sciences
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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