Meet the Team

We are the Deep Earth Seismology research group, based in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

For anyone (interested in) joining the team, please check out our Code of Conduct and guide of expectations.

Sanne Cottaar
Team Leader and Associate Professor

How did you become a Deep Earth Explorer?

As a child in the Netherlands, I thought being a seismologist might be boring as I thought you would mostly sit around waiting for earthquakes to happen... I went to do a degree in geology as I liked sciences, but wanted to do something applied and observational. The course required many weeks of camping each year, which was a big plus. In my second year I learnt that Earthquakes are happing all the time and got introduced to all the interesting things that could be observed with earthquake waves – this inspired me to start doing research in seismology!

What are you working on right now?

In my research I am looking at the source of the volcanism that created the Galapagos Islands 3000 km down inside the Earth! I also supervise a number of research students, teach courses, communicate our science, and write research proposals to do new scientific projects in the future.

What's the favourite thing about what you do?

The Earth only gives us limited clues as to what is stored and happening inside it. Sometimes it feels like the Earth has set up a treasure hunt for us! I like that my work feels like piecing together the different parts to the puzzle, and I get to do so with a great team.

Best fact about our planet?

The inner core is growing out of the outer core adding millions of kilograms of solid iron a second, which sounds shocking, but this only amounts to about a millimetre of growth in size each year.

Departmental profileTwitter
Lisanne Jagt
Postdoctoral Researcher (2022-)

How did you become a Deep Earth Explorer?

It started with a fascination with dinosaurs and evolved into a fascination with rocks and geology thanks to my secondary school geography teacher. At university I discovered that, while geology fieldwork is a fun experience, I wasn’t great at it, and that studying geophysics lets you combine maths/physics with geology.


What are you working on now?

Imaging small-scale ultra low velocity zones on the core-mantle boundary, using compressional waves that travel along this boundary. We hope to say something about the nature of these structures; in particular whether they are partially molten or require a different chemical composition.


What is the favourite thing about what you do?

The deep Earth is a bit of a mystery, since it’s not directly observable, and we are all working towards solving little bits of the puzzle. Sharing these bits at conferences is one of the best parts.


Best fact about our planet?

After a big earthquake, the entire Earth behaves as a musical instrument: it ‘rings like a bell’, and some of these ‘tones’ can still be ‘heard’ weeks after the earthquake!

Stuart Russell
PhD researcher (2019-)

How did you become a Deep Earth Explorer?

I studied geophysics for my undergraduate degree and found myself utterly fascinated by the processes occurring deep within out planet.  The deep Earth is a world completely unlike the surface we are familiar with; it is alien yet inside our own planet. There is so much that we don’t know, and that I wanted to find out!


What are you working on now?

My research focusses on resolving fine-scale features at the core-mantle boundary using different wavelength seismic observations. We are pushing the limits of seismology to see what small features may exist that we simply haven’t observed yet.


What is the favourite thing about what you do?

There is so much that we don’t understand about this constantly evolving ball of rock and metal that we live on. We are on the cutting edge of Earth science, asking questions that no-one yet knows the answers to, and that is really exciting!


Best fact about our planet?

The core-mantle boundary is the most severe boundary in our planet and is where the rocky mantle and iron core meet. The differences above and below this boundary, for example temperature and density,  are more extreme than at the surface where rock and air meet!

Departmental Profile
George Pindar
PhD researcher (2021-)

Previous group members

Jennifer Jenkins
PhD (2013-2017), Postdoctoral Researcher (2019-2021)

Jennifer Jenkins is now faculty at the University of Durham. 

Alistair Boyce
Postdoctoral Researcher (2018-2021)

Alistair Boyce is now a CNRS postdoctoral scholar in Lyon. 

Florian Millet
Postdoctoral Researcher (2020-2022)

Florian Millet is now a secondary school teacher in France. 

Zhi Li
PhD (2017-2021)

Zhi Li is now a postdoctoral researcher at Peking University

Stephen Pugh
PhD (2018-2022)

Stephen Pugh now works for EDF. 

Jessica Bartlet
Public Engagement Coordinator (2019-2020)

Jessica Bartlet now works for Standigm.