Matthew Leybourne

Queen's University

Professor - Geology

Following the completion of his PhD in Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa, Matthew worked at institutions around the world before coming to Queen’s. His research areas included geochemical and isotopic investigations of ancient and modern rocks. The main focus of Matthew’s work is developing new analytical methods for ultra-low concentrations of trace elements, using solutions and lasers to understand geochemistry of fluids associated with ore deposits.

In joining the McDonald Institute, Matthew is excited at the opportunity to be involved with a world class team investigating fundamental questions about the formation of the universe, and to be part of a leading analytical geochemical facility at the Queen’s Facility for Isotope Research. His work with the McDonald Institute will be focused on developing new low-level determinations of trace materials in the presence of large quantities of detector media to aid in the purification process.

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Q&A with Prof. Leybourne

What is something in your career you are especially proud of?

“A highlight for me was working on understanding the processes occurring at hot-water vents and associated volcanic rocks on the modern sea floor and using this information to try to unravel how Earth worked in its early life (the first couple of billion years or so). Seeing the world from a research vessel in the middle of the Pacific with nothing on the horizon is humbling.”

Why did you choose geochemistry?

“This field allows me to collect fundamental data in the laboratory, experience Earth in a large variety of places and contexts during field work, and use that information to create narratives on how the Earth works. I am really excited to be applying geochemistry to a large physics project that will allow us to narrate the origins of the universe (the bigger picture!).

Something that might surprise your students?

“I started out as a science fiction junkie, but over the last decade or so I have become a politics junkie – more strange things happen in modern politics than most science fiction writers can conceive.”