I am a Tutorial Fellow in Earth Sciences at Exeter College and an Associate Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences. After obtaining my undergraduate in geophysics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, I moved in 2009 to the UK for my Masters research project based at the University of Cambridge. I felt at home in the research group and the city so stayed on for a PhD in seismology (awarded 2014). I subsequently moved to Switzerland to work at ETH Zurich as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, experiencing the amazing scenery, but quite soon I moved back to the UK to take up a Junior Research Fellowship position at University College Oxford. For three years (2015-2018), I thoroughly enjoyed postdoc life in Oxford, particularly teaching undergraduates, the vibrant research community and College life. After a position as Royal Society University Research Fellow at UCL and Royal Holloway, I was fortunate to return to Oxford in 2022, taking up my position at Exeter College.
As a seismologist I am interested in using seismic waves to understand the world around us, ranging from planetary-scale processes to social seismology. I find it fascinating that the tiny signals recorded at the Earth’s surface allow us to answer fundamental questions about its deep interior, and yet also provide detailed information about human and animal behaviour.
Most of my research focuses on the Earth’s deep interior, where intriguing landscapes can be found, that reflect the complex processes at work since the formation of our planet. To image these landscapes, surface recordings of seismic waves generated by earthquakes are combined using techniques similar to those in medical CT imaging. These images allow us to answer fundamental questions about Earth’s interior that inform us about dynamic processes within the Earth that are relevant for its habitability and help us to understand how the evolution of the Earth differs from other planets in our solar system.
Seismically imaged structures in the Earth’s mantle, with blue colours indicating faster (often colder) material and red colours representing slower (often hotter) material.
Teaching and public engagement
As Tutorial Fellow in Earth Sciences, I tutor Exeter undergraduate students in various topics, including seismology, geophysical methods and maths. I also lecture for the Department of Earth Sciences on the third year course “Seismology & Earth Structure”.
I am also passionate about public engagement, driven by a desire to share my research and spark an interest in STEM subjects in children. I regularly participate in outreach events, using 3D printing to develop inclusive outreach materials.
- Cottaar, S. & P. Koelemeijer (2021). The interior of Mars revealed (Perspective). Science, Vol. 373(6553), 388-389, doi:10.1126/science.abj8914.
- Koelemeijer, P. (2021). Towards consistent seismological models of the core-mantle boundary landscape. AGU monograph “Mantle Convection and Surface Expressions”, edited by Marquardt, Ballmer, Cottaar & Konter, Chapter 9, pp. 229-255, doi:10.1002/9781119528609.ch9.
- Lecocq, T., S. Hicks, K. Van Noten, K. van Wijk, P. Koelemeijer, R.S.M. De Plaen, F. Massin, G. Hillers et al. (2020). Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures. Science, Vol. 369(6509), 1338–1343, doi:10.1126/science.abd2438.
- Koelemeijer, P., B.S.A. Schuberth, D.R. Davies, A. Deuss & J. Ritsema (2018). Constraints on the presence of post-perovskite in Earth’s lowermost mantle from tomographic-geodynamic model comparisons. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., Vol. 494, 226-238, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.04.056.
- Koelemeijer, P., A. Deuss & J. Ritsema (2017). Density structure of Earth’s lowermost mantle from Stoneley mode splitting observations. Nature Comm., Vol. 8, 15241, doi:10.1038/ncomms15241.
- Koelemeijer, P., J. Ritsema, A. Deuss & H.-J. Van Heijst (2016). SP12RTS: a degree-12 model of shear- and compressional-wave velocity for Earth’s mantle. Geophys. J. Int., Vol. 204(2), 1024-1039, doi:10.1093/gji/ggv481.