Derek Sears

Expertise: Meteorites and asteroids
Affiliation: ARC/BAERI
Certification/Education: BSc, 1970, chemistry, University of Kent at Canterbury
Diploma in Space Science, 1971, University College London (University of London)
PhD, 1974, geology and astronomy, University of Leicester

BASALT Research Objectives

To take new insights resulting from FINESS’ scientific exploration at volcanic and impact sites on Earth and apply the lessons-learned to the scientific exploration of asteroids.


Until summer 2011, I was University Professor, W. M. Keck Professor of Space and Planetary Science, and director of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas.  In the past I have performed instrumental neutron activation analysis and electron microprobe analysis of meteorites.  I have also worked on the surface processes occurring on Mars, asteroids and comets and have developed techniques to investigate these processes using microgravity and space simulation experiments.  My current research interests involve laboratory studies of extraterrestrial materials, especially meteorites and lunar samples, mostly using thermoluminescence and cathodoluminescence.  Other interests include the history of meteoritics and planetary science and educational outreach; I am currently the owner/editor of Meteorite magazine.

For thirty years I taught various chemistry courses at the undergraduate level and nuclear chemistry and cosmochemistry at the graduate level.  Between 1991 and 2001, I was Editor of the research journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.  As director of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences I created REU, MS, and PhD programs in space and planetary science. I have published three books and over 200 peer-reviewed research articles.