Nicole Xike Nie

Assistant Professor

Contact Info:




Isotope geo/cosmochemist studying early solar system evolution, planetary differentiation, moon formation, and planetary surface weathering.

Research Interests

My research aims to use the chemical and isotopic compositions of samples from planets, moons and asteroids to draw a clearer picture of the early processes that shaped our solar system. In my lab — CAT Lab (Cosmochemical Analysis and Testing) — we develop high-precision methods to purify elements from rocks and measure their isotopic compositions using advanced mass spectrometers such as MC-ICPMS and TIMS. Those isotopic compositions can help us understand the formation and evolution history of planetary bodies.

Topics I investigate:

  • Chemical and isotopic compositions of planetary materials
  • Mechanisms for volatile element depletion in planetary bodies
  • The formation history of terrestrial planets
  • The formation and evolution of the Moon
  • MC-ICPMS and TIMS techniques

Biographic Sketch

Nicole Xike Nie joined the EAPS faculty in 2023. After earning a BS in geology from the China University of Geosciences in 2010 and an MS in geochemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013, Nie went on to complete her PhD studies in isotope geo/cosmochemistry at the University of Chicago in 2019. Prior to coming to MIT, she pursued a postdoctoral project at Caltech from 2022-2023 and was a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science from 2019-2022.

Key Publications

  • Nie N. X., Wang D., Torrano Z. T., Carlson R. W., Alexander C. M.O’D., Shahar A. (2023) Meteorites have inherited nucleosynthetic anomalies of potassium-40 produced in supernovae. Science 379, 372–376. doi: 10.1126/science.abn1783

  • Nie N. X., Chen X.-Y., Hopp T., Hu J. Y., Zhang Z. J., Teng F.-Z., Shahar A., Dauphas N. (2021) Imprint of chondrule formation on the K and Rb isotopic compositions of carbonaceous meteorites. Science Advances 7(49), eabl3929. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abl3929

  • Nie N. X., Dauphas N. (2019) Vapor drainage in the protolunar disk as the cause for the depletion in volatile elements of the Moon. The Astrophysical Journal Letters 884(2), L48. doi: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab4a16