Dr Mark Fox-Powell

Dr Mark Fox-Powell
Research Fellow


My interests lie in maximising scientific return from upcoming or current planetary missions, particularly those that are exploring potential habitats for extraterrestrial life. In my research, I apply a range of geochemical, spectroscopic and microbiological techniques to answer questions central to the ongoing exploration of the solar system. My PhD at the University of Edinburgh investigated the geochemical constraints on habitability in simulated martian brines, and provided new insights into how the differences in aqueous chemistry on Earth and Mars has helped drive the differences in habitability we see today.

As a Leverhulme-funded research fellow at the University of St Andrews, working with Dr Claire Cousins (PI), I am using a combined field and laboratory approach to investigate how signatures of microbial life might become delivered to and preserved on the surfaces of icy moons such as Europa and Enceladus, and how they might be detectable to spacecraft.

Peer-reviewed publications


Fox-Powell, M. G., Channing, A., Applin, D., Mann, P., Cloutis E. & Cousins, C. R. (2018) Cryogenic silicification of microorganisms in hydrothermal fluids. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 498 1-8

Stevens, A. H., Childers, D., Fox-Powell, M. G., Nicholson, N., Jhoti, E. & Cockell, C. S. (2018) Growth, viability and death of planktonic and biofilm Sphingomonas desiccabilis in simulated martian brines. Astrobiology doi:10.1089/ast.2018.1840

Fox-Powell, M. G. & Cockell, C. S. (2018) Building a geochemical view of microbial salt tolerance: Halophilic adaptation of Marinococcus in a natural magnesium sulfate brine. Frontiers in Microbiology 9: 739

Cockell C. S., Biller B., Bryce C., Cousins C., Direito S., Forgan D., Fox-Powell M. G., Harrison J., Landenmark H., Nixon S., Payler S. J., Rice K., Samuels T., Schwendner P., Stevens A., Nicholson N., & Wadsworth J. (2018) The UK Centre for Astrobiology: A Virtual Astrobiology Centre. Accomplishments and Lessons Learned, 2011–2016. Astrobiology 18 (2) 224-243

Fox-Powell, M. G., Hallsworth, J. E., Cousins, C. R. & Cockell, C. S. (2016) Ionic strength is a barrier to the habitability of Mars. Astrobiology 16 (6) 427-442

Cockell, C. S., Bush, T., Bryce, C., Direito, S., Fox-Powell, M. G., Harrison, J. P., et al., Habitability: A Review. Astrobiology 16: 89-117 (2016)

Stevenson, A., Burkhardt, J., Cockell, C. S., Cray, J. A., Dijksterhuis, J., Fox-Powell, M. G., et al., Multiplication of microbes below 0.690 water activity: implications for terrestrial and extraterrestrial life. Environmental Microbiology 17 (2) 257-277 (2014)

Submitted/In review:

Fox-Powell, M. G., Osinski, G. R., Applin, D., Stromberg, J., Allender, E., Gasquez, F., Cloutis, E. & Cousins, C. R. (Submitted) Geochemical and spectral constraints on Europan non-icy material from natural analogues. Geophysical Research Letters

Payler, S. J., Biddle., J. F., Sherwood Lollar, B., Fox-Powell, M. G., Edwards, T., Ngwenya, B. T., Paling, S. M. & Cockell, C. S. (Submitted) An Ionic Limit to Life in the Deep Subsurface. Frontiers in Microbiology

source: symbiosis


Recent publications

4  (of 4 published available) for mgfp. (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details.

2018 (16/4)
Frontiers in Microbiology
2018 (15/9)
Earth and Planetary Science Letters
vol.498 pp.1-8
Cryogenic silicification of microorganisms in hydrothermal fluids
Mark George Fox-Powell, Alan Channing, Daniel Applin, Ed Cloutis, Louisa J. Preston, Claire Rachel Cousins 
Keywords: Cryogenic opal-A, Silicification, Microfossils, Biosignatures, Hydrothermal

The UK Centre for Astrobiology
Charles S. Cockell, Beth Biller, Casey Bryce, Claire Rachel Cousins, Susana Direito, Duncan Forgan, Mark George Fox-Powell, Jesse Harrison, Hanna Landenmark, Sophie Nixon, Samuel J. Payler, Ken Rice, Toby Samuels, Petra Schwendner, Adam Stevens, Natasha Nicholson, Jennifer Wadsworth 
Keywords: Astrobiology, Centre, Education, Analog research, Subsurface
2016 (6/6)
vol.16 pp.427-442
Ionic strength is a barrier to the habitability of Mars
Mark George Fox-Powell, John Hallsworth, Claire Rachel Cousins, Charles Cockell 
Keywords: Habitability, Mars, Salts, Water activity, Life in extreme environments

Contact Details:

Dr Mark Fox-Powell
Irvine Building
University of St Andrews
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

tel: 01334 463936
room: 510
email: mgfp@st-andrews.ac.uk



School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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