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Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies

Where are we now: Karen Rieck

Catch up with Center alumni through this periodic feature!

Dr. Karen Rieck has been analyzing solar wind samples from the NASA Genesis mission, using secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) since 2008 to understand the elemental and isotopic fractionation of the solar wind in order to use Genesis samples to determine the true solar photospheric composition and, from that, the composition of our solar nebula.

Dr. Karen RieckRieck received her doctoral degree in 2015, from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU). While a graduate student and NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow at ASU, she worked with two solar wind collector materials (diamond-like carbon (DLC) and silicon) under the mentorship of Genesis Project Scientist and ASU Emeritus Assistant Research Professor, Dr. Amy Jurewicz. Her dissertation, “Solar wind sodium and potassium abundance analysis in Genesis diamond-on-silicon and silicon bulk solar wind collectors, and how hydration affects the microtexture of olivine phase transformation at 18 GPa”, included two distinct microanalytical studies to address issues in planetary materials: (1) NASA Genesis mission Na and K solar wind (SW) measurements, and (2) the effect of water on high-pressure olivine phase transformations.

After graduation, Dr. Rieck continued Genesis research at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, and is currently a Research Scientist at New Mexico Consortium. Since 2019, she’s lead a research project investigating the Genesis Mission Constraints on Solar-Wind Fractionation: CNO Regime Measurements and Data Analyses to Determine Solar Abundances from the Solar Wind.

Dr. Rieck was among the first to reveal the extreme “matrix effects” of DLC during SIMS analysis, using novel standardization techniques to improve measurement accuracy. That work, and more, laid the foundation for several manuscripts as well as multiple abstracts and Genesis workshop presentations on how to fully compensate for these effects to produce accurate and precise solar wind fluences from measurements in DLC.