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  Michel Nuevo

Contact Info:

Office:Room 309, Building N245
Mail: M/S 245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035
Phone: 650 - 604 - 0789
Fax: 650 - 604- 6779
Email: Michel.Nuevo at nasa.gov

Michel Nuevo


Michel Nuevo grew up in France, where he studied physico-chemistry and astrophysics at the universities of Orsay (Paris Sud or Paris 11) and Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6). He obtained his master degrees in both Molecular Physico-Chemistry (Paris 11) and Instrumentation in Astrophysics (Paris 6) in 2001. He did his PhD at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale at the Université Paris 11 (Orsay) in Dr. Louis d'Hendecourt's team, from which he graduated in January 2005. The title of his PhD dissertation was "Photolysis of interstellar ices and production of organic molecules: Laboratory simulations" (in French). His work was focused on the physico-chemical evolution of ices of astrophysical interest when they are irradiated with an H2-discharge lamp or synchrotron radiation as ultraviolet (UV) light sources at low temperature, to the formation of amino acids and other complex organic molecules, using mainly infrared (IR) spectroscopy and chromatography techniques such as gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for data analysis.

Later in 2005, he went to the Graduate Institute of Astronomy and the Department of Physics of the National Central University (國立中央大學) in Zhongli (Taoyuan), Taiwan, where he worked as a postdoc with Drs. Wing-Huen Ip (葉永烜) and Tai-Sone Yih (易台生) on the evolution of interstellar ice analogs and the formation of organic matter after UV photon irradiation and energetic ion bombardment, until the summer of 2007. IR spectroscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were used as the main analytical tools, while synchrotron radiation from the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center (NSRRC), in Hsinchu, was the main light source used for the UV irradiation of the ices. He keeps a strong collaboration with scientists both at NCU and NSRRC, where he uses NSRRC’s UV/EUV and X-ray beamlines to conduct experiments.

Since fall of 2007, he has been working at NASA Ames in the Astrophysics & Astrochemistry Laboratory group in Dr. Scott Sandford's team. He first came as a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) fellow before becoming a SETI Institute Research Associate from 2010 to 2013, and then a BAER Institute Research Scientist since 2013. His research topics include the study of the formation of nucleobases, sugar derivatives, their derivatives, and other organic compounds of astrobiological interest from the UV irradiation of ices under astrophysically relevant conditions, the study of Solar System tholins simulating organic materials on the surface of Pluto and the atmosphere of Titan, and the study of extraterrestrial materials such as meteorites and asteroid samples returned by the Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx. Analytical techniques used for these projects include IR spectroscopy/miscroscopy, HPLC, GC-MS, and Raman spectroscopy/microscopy.

The study of laboratory and extraterrestrial materials is important from a astrobiological point of view, as it aims at linking the extraterrestrial delivery of organics on telluric planets with the molecules that may be involved in the origin of life on the primitive Earth about 3.8 billion years ago.

When he is not at Ames, Michel likes to travel, study languages, play piano, listen to music, watch movies and series, play pool, and play tennis.

Michel's major publications can be found on the Astrochemistry Laboratory's Publications Pages.