Geochemist, Ph.D.

Hi, I’m Claire Nelson and I am a geochemist studying carbon removal and storage using basalt.

My Story

My path into the world of science was paved by a love for the outdoors. When not studying geology during my undergrad years, I was on skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking my way through the Adirondacks and Vermont. After college, I lead backpacking and canyoneering trips for various outdoors schools in the Western US. My field experience led me to work for Andy Jacobson as a part of Northwestern University’s PhD Program, where my dissertation research was focused on Iceland. My project involved using specialized geochemical tools to quantify sequestration rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide through a natural process called basalt weathering. When not in the field in Iceland, I spent my time processing my samples in the Stable and Radiogenic Isotope Clean Laboratory at Northwestern.

My interest in basalt weathering and the carbon cycle led me to pursue a career in carbon removal and storage. I currently hold a position as a postdoctoral research scientistat Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. My work at LDEO is mainly focused on optimizing and developing monitoring methods for carbon storage in basalt. Carbon storage in basalt essentially speeds up the basalt weathering process that happens in nature (the focus of my PhD) to mineralize CO2 into solid carbonate underground within basaltic formations.  This geoengineering strategy was demonstrated to be successful in Iceland by CarbFix and in Washington state by the Pacific Northwest National Lab. At LDEO, we are focussing on building on what’s known and getting this technology to scale. In addition to my academic role, I hold a position as a Science Advisor for Carbon Direct, a leading carbon management firm. 

Most recently I co-founded a start-up, Cella, where we’re developing new injection and verification technologies that optimize scaled injections of carbon dioxide into volcanic rock formations for durable storage. Cella is the first and only US-based mineral carbon storage company, and we’re excited to get to work deploying our solution globally.