Rachelle Kernen

Dr Rachelle Kernen

Internal Grant Funded Researcher B

School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I am a member of the Management Committee for the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Resources at the University of Adelaide (2023-2024) and a Superstar of STEM through Science and Technology Australia (2023-2024).

As a Research Fellow and a recipient of the prestigious Global Talent Visa, my current research applies my expertise in sedimentology, stratigraphy, and salt-sediment interaction to subsurface hydrogen storage and exploration and critical mineral deposits.

I received Industry Fellowships for my MSc (2008) and PhD (2019) degrees completed in Geology at New Mexico State University and The University of Texas El Paso. During my MSc and PhD, I was a research associate for the industry-sponsored Salt-Sediment Interaction Research Consortium (Institute of Tectonic Studies).

My 2024 volunteer activities are founding the South Australian chapter of Australia's Hydrogen Society. Additionally, I am on the organizing committees for the 1) South Australian Geological Society of Australia, 2) South Australian Exploration and Mining Conference, and 3) American Association of Petroleum Geologists Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Conference.

My main research interests are the following:

1) Salt-sediment interaction in the Flinders and Willouran Ranges, South Australia. This research is significant because it marks the onset of dramatic changes in Earth’s climate referred to as Snowball Earth and forms the depositional environments where the origin of complex life was enabled to evolve. Exposure of these specific stratigraphic units in relation to the diapiric breccia is limited to this region, making them rare and unique.

Northern Flinders Ranges










Figure 1: False color satellite imagery of the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park in the Northern Flinders Ranges taken by the Copernicus Sentinel Mission (2019), processed by ESA.

2) Sedimentologic and stratigraphic studies in salt basins related to developing holistic clean energy technologies. I am interested in regional to prospect scale studies that integrate different datasets (outcrop, seismic, wireline, gravity, magnetic) and enjoy working in collaborative teams within the academic, industry, and government sectors.

Australian Salt Basins

Figure 2: Australian basins with major halite discoveries (thickness .100 m) of Precambrian age (red), Paleozoic age (green), Precambrian and Paleozoic age (yellow). Basins that are prospective of evaporite sequences are shown in grey. Wells penetrating halite/evaporite beds are indicated by black dots. Note: only the onshore extent of the Canning Basin is displayed (Boreham et al., 2021).

3) Geoethics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academic, industry, government, and non-profit sectors. I am passionate about elevating the status of marginalized people and collaborating with Indigenous people in my field locations. I specialize in the intersection of data analysis and sociologic methods. Additionally, I am passionate about utilizing sustainable, non-destructive field methods and conserving the natural environment.

Grampians National Park

Figure 3: Grampians National Park, low angle cross-bedding in a quartz arenite interpreted to be deposited in a shoreface depositional environment.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2022 - ongoing Research Fellow The University of Adelaide
    2020 - 2021 Honorary Research Fellow The University of Adelaide
    2017 - 2017 Visiting Research Fellow University of Texas Austin
    2015 - 2019 Lecturer University of Texas at El Paso
    2011 - 2015 Exploration Geoscientist Royal Dutch Shell
    2011 - 2011 Geologist Intern Samson Resources
    2008 - 2010 Lecturer New Mexico State University
    2006 - 2008 Teaching Assistant University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2022 Achievement AAPG Salt Tectonic Session & Student Volunteer Chair American Association of Petroleum Geology United States -
    2021 Award ALLY GRIT Award Finalist ALLY Energy United States -
    2020 Award GRIT Team Award ALLY Energy United States -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2021 Penn State United States Professional Master in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems
    2015 - 2019 University of Texas El Paso United States PhD Geological Sciences
    2008 - 2011 New Mexico State University United States MSc Geology
    2004 - 2008 The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh United States BSc Geology
  • Certifications

    Date Title Institution name Country
    2021 Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Penn State -
    2011 Shell Graduate Program Royal Dutch Shell United States
  • Research Interests

Industry Fellowships

  • Salt Sediment Research Consortium Tuition & Research Fellowship, UTEP, 2015-2019
    • Funding provided by: Anadarko, BHP, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon, ExxonMobil, Hess, Kosmos, Marathon, Nexen, Repsol, Samson, Shell, Statoil (Equinor), Total
  • Institute of Tectonics Tuition & Research Fellowship, NMSU, 2008-2010
    • Funding provided by: Anadarko, BHP, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon, ExxonMobil, Hess, Kosmos, Marathon, Nexen, Repsol, Samson, Shell, Statoil (Equinor), Total


  • CNRS Mobility Scheme in Hydrogen, 2023
  • Energy Geoscience Podcast funded by the United States Department of Energy Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, 2021-2023
  • Vernon G. and Joy Hunt Endowed Scholarship Fund in Geology, 2019-2020 
  • AGU Travel Grant, 2018
  • UTEP Hunt & Rowling Scholarship, 2018
  • UTEP Travel Grant, 2018
  • Roswell Geological Society Foundation Scholarship, 2018
  • West Texas Geological Foundation Scholarship, 2018
  • UTEP Travel Grant, 2017
  • SIPES-Society of Professional Earth Scientists Award, 2016
  • AAPG Grants-In-Aid W. David Wiman Award, 2016
  • UTEP Geology Bruce Davidson Memorial Award, 2016
  • AAPG Book Gift, 2010
  • AAPG Grants-In-Aid, 2009
  • Dora Blossom Gile Memorial Scholarship, NMSU, 2009
  • Neville Earth Science Public Museum Scholarship, UW, 2008
  • Student/Faculty Collaborative Research Grant, UW, 2006-2008

Lecturer for Energy Geoscience

  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing Chair Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage Case Studies Session Chair American Association of Petroleum Geologists United States
  • Event Participation

    Date Event Name Event Type Institution Country
    2022 - ongoing Women’s Network Webinar Series: Decarbonization Solutions for the Energy Transition Seminars American Association of Petroleum Geologists -
  • Review, Assessment, Editorial and Advice

    Date Title Type Institution Country
    2021 - ongoing Associate Editor Editorial American Association of Petroleum Geology -
  • Position: Internal Grant Funded Researcher B
  • Email: rachelle.kernen@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Mawson, floor First Floor
  • Room: 116
  • Org Unit: Earth Sciences

Connect With Me
External Profiles