Luke Steller
Postgraduate Research Student

Luke Steller

Postgraduate Research Student
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Luke is a PhD candidate at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. His PhD project aims to study Archean hot spring systems, to better direct the design of pre-biotic experiments. Funded by an ARC Discovery grant, this project has two main objectives:

1) to develop a better understanding of Archean hot springs, through conducting in-depth B isotope analysis on sea-water/rock interactions. This will result in a model of sea-water characteristics that were altering the rocks below, and then feeding up into, the 3.5 billion year old Dresser hot spring system. As these ancient hot springs host one of the oldest evidence of life on Earth, the Dresser Stromatolites, understanding the hot spring development is vital to our understanding of how life formed and evolved on Earth.

2) to use this new-found understanding of Archean hot spring environments to “ground-proof” previously conducted pre-biotic experiments. Many pre-biotic experiments are conducted in clean glassware, with distilled water and no-minerals present, which is unrealistic when compared to the complex (messy) early Earth environments in which life formed. Through repeating previous experiments, and designing new ones, with the environmental context in mind, this project will test if realistic Archean environments help, or hinder, the origin of life on Earth.

Luke is also actively involved in scientific engagement and community outreach, including workshop design and facilitation, astrobiology presentations and event organisation.


Supervisor: Professor Martin Van Kranendonk

Secondary Supervisor: Professor Pall Thordarson (School of Chemistry)



Steller, Luke H., et al. "Boron Isotopes in the Puga Geothermal System, India, and Their Implications for the Habitat of Early Life." Astrobiology 19.12 (2019): 1459-1473.

Steller, L., et al. "Astrobiology And Community-Led Science Education In Ladakh." Australasian Astrobiology Meeting Poster (2018).

Van Kranendonk, M.J., Djokic, T., Poole, G., Tadbiri, S., Steller, L., Baumgartner, R. (2018). Depositional setting of the fossiliferous, c. 3480 Ma Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton: A review. In: Van Kranendonk, M.J., Bennett, V., Hoffmann, E., Earth’s Oldest Rocks, 2nd Edition. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Pandey, S., et al. "Ladakh: Diverse, high-altitude extreme environments for off-earth analogue and astrobiology research." International Journal of Astrobiology 19.1 (2020): 78-98.

Level 2 EastBiological Sciences North (D26)UNSW, Kensington 2052