Skip to main content

NUANCE: Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center

Krysten Villalon, PhD

Krysten Villalon, PhD

Krysten Villalon, PhD

Core Scientist

Office: Tech, #AG90



View full CV

Personal Statement

I’m a cosmochemist, which means I specialize in laboratory analysis of extraterrestrial materials to understand how solar systems form and evolve. In particular, I use electron microscopy and mass spectrometry techniques to study the submicrometer components in meteorites and interplanetary dust particles (IDPs).

I received my PhD in Cosmochemistry in 2021 from the University of Chicago’s Department of Geophysical Sciences. As part of my PhD thesis, I used (S)TEM-EDS and nanodiffraction to study the chemistry and mineralogy of fine-grained matrix materials in primitive carbonaceous chondrites and IDPs to better understand their possible relationships and alteration histories. I later completed a post-doctoral position at the Field Museum of Natural History where my research focused on atom probe tomography analyses of submicrometer presolar grains (stardust).

The foundation of cosmochemistry is the study of the smallest objects in the universe to understand the largest—using atoms and molecules to understand structures like planets, stars, galaxies, or the universe as a whole. Such atomic and nanoscale characterization is fundamental not only in cosmochemistry and the planetary sciences, but to all analytical disciplines. As a core scientist at EPIC-NUANCE, I train users from a variety of fields to become skilled electron microscopists and am available to help users and the community acquire quality data for their specific research needs.

Research Objectives and Approach

  • Electron microscopy
  • Focused ion beam (FIB)
  • Atom probe tomography (APT)
  • Nanoscience
  • Primitive meteorites
  • Cosmic dust
  • Presolar grains
  • Nucleosynthesis
  • Solar System formation and evolution
  • Galactic Chemical Evolution

Educational & Research Background

Current Core Scientist, NUANCE/EPIC SEM, Northwestern University
2021–2023 Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies, Field Museum of Natural History
2013–2021 PhD in Cosmochemistry, Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
2004–2008 B. A. in Art History, B. A. in Spanish Literature, Vanderbilt University