Geochemist, Ph.D.

Hi, I’m Claire Nelson and I am a geochemist studying carbon capture 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 extensive field experience led me to work for Andy Jacobson as a part of Northwestern University’s PhD Program, where my dissertation research was focused in Iceland. My project involved using specialized geochemical tools to quantify sequestration rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide through a natural process called 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 capture and storage. I recently began a job as a postdoctoral research scientist at 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 scaling this to offshore basalt.

I am passionate about carbon dioxide removal and committed to deploying and scaling climate solutions as fast as possible.