Dr Ria Mitchell

MSci, PhD

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Experimental Officer in X-ray Micro Computed Tomography

+44 114 222 5940

Full contact details

Dr Ria Mitchell
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
North Campus
Broad Lane
S3 7HQ
  • 2006: MSci Geosciences (Royal Holloway University of London, UK)
  • 2010: PhD (Dept. Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, UK): ‘Palaeoenvironmental implications of 1.1Ga palaeosols’,

Career History

  • May 2020-present: Experimental Officer in X-ray CT, University of Sheffield, UK
  • September 2019-May 2020: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Swansea University, UK
  • April 2017-September 2019: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Correlative Microscopy, Swansea University, UK
  • May 2013-July 2016: Postdoctoral Research Assistant Co-Evolution Initiative, Dept. Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum (London), UK
Research interests

The evolution and interaction of ancient terrestrial life with their substrates

I am interested in the methods by which ancient terrestrial life lived on/within their substrates to promote organism-substrate interactions, weathering, soil development, and biogeochemical cycling. This is through studying rocks for physical, chemical, and biological indications of these interactions and weathering, but also from studying present day primordial landscapes as modern analogues, such as cryptogamic ground covers from Iceland and New Zealand. I employ numerous techniques to better understand these processes: tomography (e.g. 3D/4D imaging), microscopy (e.g. SEM, OM, FIB-SEM), chemistry (e.g. ICP-AES, XRD, SEM-EDS), and combinations of the above through correlative microscopy. It is important to understand these processes, particularly at various scales, to understand how primordial biospheres contributed to shifts in biogeochemical cycling (and ultimately Earth-wide climate) millions of years ago, and could help inform how even the smallest processes through organism-substrate interactions can have a profound effect on the Earth System. Specific time periods of interest include the evolution of the first terrestrial plants and biologically-mediated soils in the Early Palaeozoic, and the initial colonisation of land surfaces by microbial crusts in the Proterozoic. I am also interested in palaeobotany and palaeosols (fossil soils).

Bioinspiration and Biomimicry

I am interested in studying the naturally occurring biological structures found in diverse organisms (e.g. biomineralised components such as shells in molluscs, gastropods, and arthropods) through a multi-scale, multi-modal, and multi-dimensional correlative microscopy approach. The structures found within nature can be used towards developing novel human-made materials.

Applying Correlative Microscopy (specifically tomography) to wide-ranging applications

I have broad interests in applying correlative microscopy and tomography to varied applications including materials science, mechanical engineering, biology, botany, Earth science, palaeontology, and ecology.


Journal articles


  • Noffke N, Beraldi-Camesi H, Callefo F, Carmona N, Cuadrado DG, Hickman-Lewis K, Homann M, Mitchell R, Sheldon N, Westall F & Xiao S (2022) Microbially Induced Sedimentary Structures In x (Ed.), Treatise Online 162 (pp. 1-29). The University of Kansas, Palaeontological Institute RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers