Skip to content

Coffee Beans

Get to know the people in Café Thorium!


Ken Buesseler

Senior Scientist

Ken Buesseler is a marine radiochemist who studies the fate and distribution of radioactive elements in the ocean. Their radioactive decay properties can tell us something about time-scales, or how quickly processes take place. Applications include studies of the ocean carbon cycle where the naturally occurring isotopes of thorium tell us how quickly and how much carbon is carried on sinking particles from the sun lite surface ocean through the ocean twilight zone to the deep sea. His lab has also been active in response to radioactivity released from disasters such as the impact of radioactivity released from the Fuksuhima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, and from earlier sources such as Chernobyl or atomic weapons testing at the Marshall Islands. Find out more about him HERE



Steve Pike

Research Specialist - Radioanalytical Facility Manager

Steve is interested in the analysis and evaluation of trace metal contaminants in the environment including groundwater, aerosols and precipitation. He specializes in the isolation and measurement of artificial and natural radioisotopes in seawater and sediments as well as the development of field and laboratory techniques for detecting radioisotopes. Find out more about Steve HERE.



Jessica Drysdale

Research Associate II

Jessica has been working in Café Thorium since 2015. She is broadly interested in contaminants in the environment and the geochemical interactions of water, rocks, and microbes.



Muntsa Roca-Marti

Postdoctoral Investigator - 2018-Present

Muntsa comes to us from Barcelona where she finished her PhD in 2017. Her main interest is to study how the biological pump exports and sequesters carbon in the ocean. She uses natural radionuclide ratios (234Th/238U and 210Po/210Pb) to quantify carbon fluxes in different oceanic regions. Muntsa is now at WHOI working on the EXPORTS project (Siegel et al., 2016), which aims to improve our understanding of key processes controlling the export of primary production in the ocean and our ability to monitor and predict its changes on regional to global scales.


Jen Kenyon

Jennifer Kenyon

MIT-WHOI PhD Student - 2016-Present

Jennifer Kenyon is a PhD student in Chemical Oceanography in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science with Honors in Geology from Louisiana State University in 2016. Her research focuses on tracking contamination from the Fukushima disaster in seawater. Kenyon is also a part of the GEOTRACES project, where she focuses on using radioactive elements (namely Thorium-234) in order to better understand trace metal cycling in the Pacific Ocean.
Samantha Clevenger

Samantha Clevenger

MIT-WHOI PhD Student - 2018-Present

Samantha Clevenger is a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018 with a degree in Geochemistry. Her work in Café Thorium so far has focused on using thorium to better understand carbon export for NASA’s EXPORTS project.


Past Café Thorium Stars

Joint Program Students:

Erin Black (2017) - Erin is now a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Ocean Frontier Institute, an international Postdoctoral Program focusing on the Atlantic. Her position is jointly between Dalhousie University (Halifax, N.S., Canada) and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University, N.Y.)

Andrew McDonnell (2011) - Andrew is an Assistant Professor of Oceanography at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He runs the Particle Dynamics Laboratory.

Stephanie Owens (2013)

Claudia Benitez-Nelson (1999) - Claudia is now a Professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Environment at the University of South Carolina.

Örjan Gustafsson (1997) - Örjan is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry at Stockholm University.

Post Doctoral:

Virginie Sanial (2015-2017) - Virginie is now at the Université de Toulon, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, France.

Colleen Durkin (2012-2015) - Colleen is now part of the research faculty in the department of Biological Oceanography at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California.

Margaret Estapa (2011-2014) - Meg is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine.

Kanchan Maiti (2007) - Kachan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University.

Visiting Scholars:

Wen Yu (2018-2019) - Wen works at the Third Institute of Oceanography in China. Her research focuses on tracking releases from the Fukushima disaster in seawater and marine biota.

Technical Staff:

Crystaline Breier (2011-2015)
John Andrews

Scroll To Top