My research focuses on the origin of the chemical elements in the Universe. While it might sound that I am a chemist, in fact my field of study is a branch of physics known as nuclear astrophysics. I am a nuclear astrophysicist.
The Big Bang made only some of the lightest elements. It has been during the past 14 billion years that stars have synthesized most of the elements of the periodic table. For example, the carbon in our bodies, the oxygen we breathe, the silicon in our computers, and the iron in our buildings were once long ago inside a star. Thermonuclear reactions occuring at temperatures close to a billion degrees are responsible for the transmutaion of atomic nuclei. But, why are some elements rare while others are abundant? The fact that gold is expensive while aluminum is cheap is just a mere coincidence? Could it be possible that somewhere in the Universe there exist living organisms whose biochemistry is based on something different from carbon? It all has to do with nuclear astrophysics.