PEOPLE
 

LINDSAY HAYS

NASA HQ | HQ Liason

Deputy Program Scientist, NASA Astrobiology ProgramHQ Representative

SARAH JOHNSON

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY | Co-Lead

Sarah Stewart Johnson is an assistant professor of planetary science at Georgetown University and a visiting scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She holds a B.A. in mathematics and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis, a second B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics and M.Sc. in biology from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. in planetary science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgetown faculty, she was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. Sarah's research is driven by the goal of understanding the presence and preservation of biosignatures within planetary environments. She is also involved in the implementation of planetary exploration, analyzing data from current spacecraft and devising new techniques for future missions. Her recent projects have included searching for signs of habitability with the Curiosity Rover, studying the limits of life in Antarctica, assessing how biology affects patterns of mineralization in Mars analog environments, and helping to develop sequencing as a tool for spaceflight.

TORI HOEHLER

NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER | Co-Lead

Tori Hoehler is the co-Director of the Center for Life Detection, a collaborative effort between NASA’s Ames Research Center and Goddard Space Flight Center. The center’s purpose is to inform and advance life detection strategies in support of NASA program and mission planning. A chemist and oceanographer with a 25 years’ experience in studying the relationship between environment and life from the perspective of energy flow, his present research focuses on developing a quantitative approach to assessing the ‘detectability’ of biospheres beyond Earth. He has brought this perspective into service on the Europa Clipper and Europa Lander Science Definition Teams, as well as an 8-year term as Astrobiology representative to the MEPAG goals committee.

BETH ORCUTT

BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCE | Steering Committee

Dr. Beth N. Orcutt is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine, USA. Orcutt earned her Ph.D. in Marine Sciences in 2007 from the University of Georgia, Athens, following her research on methane and sulfur cycling in Gulf of Mexico sediment and gas hydrate habitats with Dr. Samantha B. Joye. She also received a B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Georgia, Athens, in 2002. Orcutt’s research focuses on figuring out how microbial life survives in “extreme” environments in the deep sea and other aquatic environments, and in determining the roles that those microbes play in global chemical cycles. Orcutt’s specializes in the use of in situ observatory experiments in the environment coupled with geochemical, electromicrobiological, and single cell-level genomic techniques to track the activity of microbes and identify the mechanisms they use to survive.

ROGER SUMMONS

MIT | Steering Committee

Roger Summons is Schlumberger Professor of Geobiology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to taking up that appointment in 2001 he was at Geoscience Australia in Canberra. At MIT his research group studies the co-evolution of Earth’s early life and environment, biosignatures of microbially-dominated ecosystems, the structures and biosynthetic pathways of membrane lipids, biological mass extinction events and the origins of fossil fuels. Summons is a collaborator on the SAM team of the Mars Science Laboratory mission and pursues his interest in Earth's early life as an investigator in the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life. See more at: http://summons.mit.edu

WILLIAM HUG

PHOTON SYSTEMS, INC. | Steering Committee

Dr. William F. Hug is founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer of Photon Systems, Inc., a company formed in 1999 to develop deep UV lasers and incoherent sources and systems enabled by these sources. Dr. Hug has been the principal investigator on many R&D grants and research contracts for development of deep UV lasers and biological and chemical sensors. Her is currently a Co-I on the Mars 2020 SHERLOC deep UV Raman and fluorescence instrument. Dr. Hug was awarded a DARPA Outstanding Performer Award and awards from NASA and other organizations. Previously, Dr. Hug founded and was president and other senior positions at Omnichrome Corporation and Xerox Corp. Dr. Hug was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Space Propulsion at Univ. of Stuttgart, Germany. He received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University with Ph.D. thesis area, optical properties of high temperature argon plasmas, and M.S. thesis area, magnetoplasmadynamic free jets. He received a B.S. from Univ. of Notre Dame in aerospace sciences. Dr. Hug has over 140 patents and publications in refereed journals. Dr. Hug’s interest is in development of innovative new analytical instruments and sensors based on laser induced native fluorescence and resonance Raman spectroscopy and deep UV radiation sources including wide bandgap semiconductor sources and unique narrow linewidth lasers capable operating in extremely harsh environmental conditions.

WESLEY SWINGLEY

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

Wesley Swingley is an associate professor of microbial ecology and assistant chair for the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University. He holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Arizona State University. In addition to his interest in astrobiology Wes is also an affiliate of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy and NIU and actively engaged in conservation and restoration science and outreach. Wes’s research group studies the interaction between microbes and the environment, particularly the ways in which microbial community structure and metabolic potential changes in response to perturbations. The ultimate goal of his work is to learn how microbes have evolved and adapted to their environment. As a consummate space nerd, he seeks to link theories of metabolism and microbial ecology to astrobiology and life we might find on other bodies in our solar system or detect around other stars.

SHANSHAN YU

NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY | Steering Committee

Dr. Shanshan Yu is a research scientist in the Earth Science Section at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She obtained her PhD degree in Physical Chemistry in 2007. She came to JPL as a postdoc in 2008 and became an employee in 2010. Her specialty is molecular spectroscopy focused on composition of Earth's atmosphere, planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. Dr. Yu develops unique instrumentation and is currently the PI of a PICASSO task in the development of a millimeter-wave chirality detection spectrometer. She contributes to the JPL millimeter- wave spectral line catalog and the high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN) supporting interdisciplinary science applications. Her other responsibilities include (a) providing molecular line parameters for Earth science mission instruments (Aura/Microwave Limb Sounder; Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2), and Astrophysics mission instrument (Herschel/Heterodyne Instrument for the Far- Infrared (HIFI)); (b) providing calibration support to Herschel/HIFI; (c) analyzing Herschel/HIFI's observations. Dr. Yu has 87 peer-reviewed publications. She received prestigious awards from the field of molecular spectroscopy, including the Flygare Award in 2015 from the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, and the Young Scientist Award in 2010 from the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer. More details can be found in her website https://science.jpl.nasa.gov/people/SYu

TIM SHORT

SRI INTERNATIONAL | Steering Committee

Tim Short received his Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from the University of Tennessee in 1987, and following a post-doctoral position in Stockholm, Sweden he worked for eight years as a Research Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), focusing on instrumental development in mass spectrometry. He left ORNL in 1997 to work at the University of South Florida’s Center for Ocean Technology, and subsequently joined SRI International’s St. Petersburg, FL office in 2007 where he is currently a Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Security and Survivability. At USF and SRI his primary research interests have included development of underwater mass spectrometers and miniaturization of mass spectrometers. He is currently investigating the use of in situ membrane inlet mass spectrometers for exploration of Ocean Worlds.

GORDON LOVE

UC RIVERSIDE | Steering Committee

Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at UC Riverside.

DAVID STILLMAN

SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE | Steering Committee

Dr. David Stillman is a near surface geophysicist with experience in planetary, oil, and environmental exploration. He has over a decade of experience performing electrical properties measurements at cold temperatures and conducting field geophysical surveys (primarily GPR, spectral induced polarization, resistivity, & EM-induction). His laboratory research focuses on electrical properties measurements of Martian, Europan, and Lunar analogs as a function of temperature, frequency, water/ice content, salinity, humidity, and microbial content. The purpose of these measurements is to determine radar loss and to create a library of dielectric relaxations that can be used to detect and characterize subsurface ice, unfrozen water, and life throughout the Solar System. Currently, Stillman and his colleagues are using electrical property and nuclear magnetic resonance measurements of salt-doped ice and ice-regolith mixtures to determine how ice-binding extracellular proteins change the microstructural properties of liquid vein networks. Additionally, they will determine if such changes could be detected by measuring the bulk electrical resistivity of the icy unit. Stillman also performs laboratory measurements with to measure the metastability of brine, including determining when deliquescence and efflorescence occurs. The laboratory results are then used to produce more accurate models to predict when brine formation occurs on Mars and also determine the water activity of such brine. David has been applying his laboratory knowledge of ice-water phase transitions of brines and his hydrology background to investigate the flow and recharge mechanism of Martian recurring slope lineae (RSL). He has been using spacecraft data to test his theories on RSL formation and recharge. Highlights include the discovery of (1) seasonal differences of RSL regions (2) interannual variations of RSL, (3) water budgets of all RSL demonstrate a RSL are likely not recharged via the water-poor atmosphere, and (4) recharge of northern mid-latitude RSL are consistent with a briny aquifer.

AMANDA STOCKTON

GEORGIA TECH | Steering Committee

Amanda Stockton is an Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institution of Technology in Chemistry and Biochemistry. She joined Georgia Tech in 2015 after a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellowship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she also worked as a Technologist after earning two BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemistry and in Aerospace Engineering, a MA from Brown University in Chemistry, and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She currently is a faculty member of the Center for Space Technology and Research (CSTAR) and the Bioengineering Graduate Program at Georgia Tech. As Principal Investigator of the Field Exploration and Life Detection Science for Planetary and Astrobiology Research (FELSPAR), she also serves on the steering committee for the Network for Life Detection (NfoLD).

ALEXANDRA PONTEFRACT

MIT | Steering Committee

Dr. Alexandra Pontefract is a Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a geomicrobiologist with a background in endolithic microbial ecosystems, and is interested in habitat generation through impact bombardment, polar and hypersaline environments, and life-detection techniques and instrumentation. Her current work focuses on biosignature preservation and retention in hypersaline environments, more broadly exploring habitability in low water activity environments, and is a member of the Oceans Across Space and Time project. She is also currently working on the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG) Project, a life detection instrument designed to extract and sequence informational molecules for planetary exploration missions. Dr. Pontefract has extensive arctic field experience, and has served as science and instrument leads on several analogue mission deployments for the Canadian Space Agency. 

CHRISTINE FOREMAN

MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

Christine M. Foreman is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Associate Dean for Student Success in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU), Bozeman. Foreman earned her B.S. in biology with a chemistry minor from Baldwin-Wallace College, and she earned her Ph.D. in biology at the University of Toledo where she received a National Science Foundation (NSF) dissertation improvement grant and attended the Microbial Diversity course at Woods Hole. Christine came to MSU as an NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow in Microbial Biology. Foreman’s Research Group (www.foremanresearchgroup.com) in the Center for Biofilm Engineering studies life in icy environments, including Antarctica and Greenland. Foreman has been a member of two National Academy of Science-National Research Council Committees and serves on the United States Ice Core Working Group. Her research focuses on microbial life, and what sustains this life, in cold temperature environments. Deep ice cores are a powerful tool for reconstructing the timing and extent of past changes in our Earth’s climate, while more contemporary environments provide a natural laboratory for studying microbial survival and material transformations. Studies of extremophiles are particularly valuable for providing insight into the physical limits of life. 

LINDSAY HAYS

NASA HQ | HQ Liason

Deputy Program Scientist, NASA Astrobiology ProgramHQ Representative

SARAH JOHNSON

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY | Co-Lead

Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures

Sarah Stewart Johnson is an assistant professor of planetary science at Georgetown University and a visiting scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She holds a B.A. in mathematics and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis, a second B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics and M.Sc. in biology from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. in planetary science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgetown faculty, she was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. Sarah's research is driven by the goal of understanding the presence and preservation of biosignatures within planetary environments. She is also involved in the implementation of planetary exploration, analyzing data from current spacecraft and devising new techniques for future missions. Her recent projects have included searching for signs of habitability with the Curiosity Rover, studying the limits of life in Antarctica, assessing how biology affects patterns of mineralization in Mars analog environments, and helping to develop sequencing as a tool for spaceflight.

TORI HOEHLER

NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER | Co-Lead

Center for Life Detection Science (CLDS)

Tori Hoehler is the co-Director of the Center for Life Detection, a collaborative effort between NASA’s Ames Research Center and Goddard Space Flight Center. The center’s purpose is to inform and advance life detection strategies in support of NASA program and mission planning. A chemist and oceanographer with a 25 years’ experience in studying the relationship between environment and life from the perspective of energy flow, his present research focuses on developing a quantitative approach to assessing the ‘detectability’ of biospheres beyond Earth. He has brought this perspective into service on the Europa Clipper and Europa Lander Science Definition Teams, as well as an 8-year term as Astrobiology representative to the MEPAG goals committee.

BETH ORCUTT

BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCE | Steering Committee

Sorting out active vs. inactive microbes in subsurface oceanic crust Icy World analogs

Dr. Beth N. Orcutt is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine, USA. Orcutt earned her Ph.D. in Marine Sciences in 2007 from the University of Georgia, Athens, following her research on methane and sulfur cycling in Gulf of Mexico sediment and gas hydrate habitats with Dr. Samantha B. Joye. She also received a B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Georgia, Athens, in 2002. Orcutt’s research focuses on figuring out how microbial life survives in “extreme” environments in the deep sea and other aquatic environments, and in determining the roles that those microbes play in global chemical cycles. Orcutt’s specializes in the use of in situ observatory experiments in the environment coupled with geochemical, electromicrobiological, and single cell-level genomic techniques to track the activity of microbes and identify the mechanisms they use to survive.

ROGER SUMMONS

MIT | Steering Committee

Biosignatures of the 'Dirty Ice' of the McMurdo Ice Shelf: Analogues for biological oases during the Cryogenian and on other icy world

Roger Summons is Schlumberger Professor of Geobiology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to taking up that appointment in 2001 he was at Geoscience Australia in Canberra. At MIT his research group studies the co-evolution of Earth’s early life and environment, biosignatures of microbially-dominated ecosystems, the structures and biosynthetic pathways of membrane lipids, biological mass extinction events and the origins of fossil fuels. Summons is a collaborator on the SAM team of the Mars Science Laboratory mission and pursues his interest in Earth's early life as an investigator in the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life. See more at: http://summons.mit.edu

WILLIAM HUG

PHOTON SYSTEMS, INC. | Steering Committee

Advancing the TRL of a Compact, High Dynamic Range Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer

Dr. William F. Hug is founder, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer of Photon Systems, Inc., a company formed in 1999 to develop deep UV lasers and incoherent sources and systems enabled by these sources. Dr. Hug has been the principal investigator on many R&D grants and research contracts for development of deep UV lasers and biological and chemical sensors. Her is currently a Co-I on the Mars 2020 SHERLOC deep UV Raman and fluorescence instrument. Dr. Hug was awarded a DARPA Outstanding Performer Award and awards from NASA and other organizations. Previously, Dr. Hug founded and was president and other senior positions at Omnichrome Corporation and Xerox Corp. Dr. Hug was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Space Propulsion at Univ. of Stuttgart, Germany. He received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University with Ph.D. thesis area, optical properties of high temperature argon plasmas, and M.S. thesis area, magnetoplasmadynamic free jets. He received a B.S. from Univ. of Notre Dame in aerospace sciences. Dr. Hug has over 140 patents and publications in refereed journals. Dr. Hug’s interest is in development of innovative new analytical instruments and sensors based on laser induced native fluorescence and resonance Raman spectroscopy and deep UV radiation sources including wide bandgap semiconductor sources and unique narrow linewidth lasers capable operating in extremely harsh environmental conditions.

WESLEY SWINGLEY

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

Chlorophyll d as a model for biosignature evolution

Wesley Swingley is an associate professor of microbial ecology and assistant chair for the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Illinois University. He holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from Arizona State University. In addition to his interest in astrobiology Wes is also an affiliate of the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy and NIU and actively engaged in conservation and restoration science and outreach. Wes’s research group studies the interaction between microbes and the environment, particularly the ways in which microbial community structure and metabolic potential changes in response to perturbations. The ultimate goal of his work is to learn how microbes have evolved and adapted to their environment. As a consummate space nerd, he seeks to link theories of metabolism and microbial ecology to astrobiology and life we might find on other bodies in our solar system or detect around other stars. See more at: https://wswingley.wixsite.com/labsite

SHANSHAN YU

NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY | Steering Committee

Millimeter-wave spectrometer for chirality and relative abundance determination of amino acid biomarkers

Dr. Shanshan Yu is a research scientist in the Earth Science Section at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She obtained her PhD degree in Physical Chemistry in 2007. She came to JPL as a postdoc in 2008 and became an employee in 2010. Her specialty is molecular spectroscopy focused on composition of Earth's atmosphere, planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. Dr. Yu develops unique instrumentation and is currently the PI of a PICASSO task in the development of a millimeter-wave chirality detection spectrometer. She contributes to the JPL millimeter- wave spectral line catalog and the high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN) supporting interdisciplinary science applications. Her other responsibilities include (a) providing molecular line parameters for Earth science mission instruments (Aura/Microwave Limb Sounder; Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2), and Astrophysics mission instrument (Herschel/Heterodyne Instrument for the Far- Infrared (HIFI)); (b) providing calibration support to Herschel/HIFI; (c) analyzing Herschel/HIFI's observations. Dr. Yu has 87 peer-reviewed publications. She received prestigious awards from the field of molecular spectroscopy, including the Flygare Award in 2015 from the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, and the Young Scientist Award in 2010 from the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer. More details can be found in her website https://science.jpl.nasa.gov/people/SYu

TIM SHORT

SRI INTERNATIONAL | Steering Committee

Membrane Extraction for Space Applications

Tim Short received his Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from the University of Tennessee in 1987, and following a post-doctoral position in Stockholm, Sweden he worked for eight years as a Research Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), focusing on instrumental development in mass spectrometry. He left ORNL in 1997 to work at the University of South Florida’s Center for Ocean Technology, and subsequently joined SRI International’s St. Petersburg, FL office in 2007 where he is currently a Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Security and Survivability. At USF and SRI his primary research interests have included development of underwater mass spectrometers and miniaturization of mass spectrometers. He is currently investigating the use of in situ membrane inlet mass spectrometers for exploration of Ocean Worlds.

GORDON LOVE

UC RIVERSIDE | Steering Committee

Exceptional preservation of Ediacaran organic biosignatures yields novel insights into the marine environments and ecology that hosted early multicellular organisms

Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at UC Riverside.

DAVID STILLMAN

SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE | Steering Committee

Toward Geophysical Detection of the Biological Modification of Ice

Dr. David Stillman is a near surface geophysicist with experience in planetary, oil, and environmental exploration. He has over a decade of experience performing electrical properties measurements at cold temperatures and conducting field geophysical surveys (primarily GPR, spectral induced polarization, resistivity, & EM-induction). His laboratory research focuses on electrical properties measurements of Martian, Europan, and Lunar analogs as a function of temperature, frequency, water/ice content, salinity, humidity, and microbial content. The purpose of these measurements is to determine radar loss and to create a library of dielectric relaxations that can be used to detect and characterize subsurface ice, unfrozen water, and life throughout the Solar System. Currently, Stillman and his colleagues are using electrical property and nuclear magnetic resonance measurements of salt-doped ice and ice-regolith mixtures to determine how ice-binding extracellular proteins change the microstructural properties of liquid vein networks. Additionally, they will determine if such changes could be detected by measuring the bulk electrical resistivity of the icy unit. Stillman also performs laboratory measurements with to measure the metastability of brine, including determining when deliquescence and efflorescence occurs. The laboratory results are then used to produce more accurate models to predict when brine formation occurs on Mars and also determine the water activity of such brine. David has been applying his laboratory knowledge of ice-water phase transitions of brines and his hydrology background to investigate the flow and recharge mechanism of Martian recurring slope lineae (RSL). He has been using spacecraft data to test his theories on RSL formation and recharge. Highlights include the discovery of (1) seasonal differences of RSL regions (2) interannual variations of RSL, (3) water budgets of all RSL demonstrate a RSL are likely not recharged via the water-poor atmosphere, and (4) recharge of northern mid-latitude RSL are consistent with a briny aquifer.

AMANDA STOCKTON

GEORGIA TECH | Steering Committee

Field Exploration and Life Detection Sampling for Planetary and Astrobiology Research (FELDSPAR)

Amanda Stockton is an Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institution of Technology in Chemistry and Biochemistry. She joined Georgia Tech in 2015 after a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellowship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she also worked as a Technologist after earning two BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemistry and in Aerospace Engineering, a MA from Brown University in Chemistry, and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She currently is a faculty member of the Center for Space Technology and Research (CSTAR) and the Bioengineering Graduate Program at Georgia Tech. As Principal Investigator of the Field Exploration and Life Detection Science for Planetary and Astrobiology Research (FELSPAR), she also serves on the steering committee for the Network for Life Detection (NfoLD).

ALEXANDRA PONTEFRACT

MIT | Steering Committee

Biosignature Preservation in Sulfate-Dominated Hypersaline Environments

Dr. Alexandra Pontefract is a Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a geomicrobiologist with a background in endolithic microbial ecosystems, and is interested in habitat generation through impact bombardment, polar and hypersaline environments, and life-detection techniques and instrumentation. Her current work focuses on biosignature preservation and retention in hypersaline environments, more broadly exploring habitability in low water activity environments, and is a member of the Oceans Across Space and Time project. She is also currently working on the Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes (SETG) Project, a life detection instrument designed to extract and sequence informational molecules for planetary exploration missions. Dr. Pontefract has extensive arctic field experience, and has served as science and instrument leads on several analogue mission deployments for the Canadian Space Agency. 

CHRISTINE FOREMAN

MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

SLICE Spectral Signs of Life in Ice

Christine M. Foreman is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Associate Dean for Student Success in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU), Bozeman. Foreman earned her B.S. in biology with a chemistry minor from Baldwin-Wallace College, and she earned her Ph.D. in biology at the University of Toledo where she received a National Science Foundation (NSF) dissertation improvement grant and attended the Microbial Diversity course at Woods Hole. Christine came to MSU as an NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow in Microbial Biology. Foreman’s Research Group (www.foremanresearchgroup.com) in the Center for Biofilm Engineering studies life in icy environments, including Antarctica and Greenland. Foreman has been a member of two National Academy of Science-National Research Council Committees and serves on the United States Ice Core Working Group. Her research focuses on microbial life, and what sustains this life, in cold temperature environments. Deep ice cores are a powerful tool for reconstructing the timing and extent of past changes in our Earth’s climate, while more contemporary environments provide a natural laboratory for studying microbial survival and material transformations. Studies of extremophiles are particularly valuable for providing insight into the physical limits of life. 

PABLO SOBRON

SETI INSTITUTE | Steering Committee

In-situ Vent Analysis Divebot for Exobiology Research (InVADER)

Pablo Sobron is a research scientist with strong interests in robotic space exploration. He received his Ph.D in Physics in 2008 by the University of Valladolid, Spain. He has lead or collaborated on over 40 European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, and NASA funded projects focused on the development of instruments and data processing tools for missions to explore the Solar System. Pablo is a world expert in sensing technologies in robotic Earth and planetary exploration and has led or taken part in 20+ mission level technology demonstrations in Arctic, Antarctic, Atacama, Andes, Tibet, and mine sites in several continents. He has developed and demonstrated over a dozen concepts and prototypes of in-situ mineralogy/geochemistry/biosignature detection instruments. Currently, Pablo is a Research Scientist at the SETI Institute and Founder of Impossible Sensing. Through this venture he engages in knowledge transfer activities among NASA, other federal departments/agencies, research institutions, and industry at all technology readiness levels. He is member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the NASA Mars 2020 mission and ESA ExoMars 2020 rover Science Teams. Pablo holds two NASA Group Achievement Awards.

RICHARD MATHIES

BERKELEY | Steering Committee

The Enceladus Organic Analyzer (EOA)

Richard A. Mathies received his B. S. Degree in Chemistry in 1968 at the University of Washington working with Martin Gouterman. He earned the M. S. Degree in 1970 and the Ph. D. in 1973 in Physical Chemistry at Cornell University from Andreas Albrecht. Following two years of postdoctoral study as a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University with Lubert Stryer, he moved to the Chemistry Department at the University of California at Berkeley in 1976. From 2008-2013 he was Dean of the College of Chemistry and G. N. Lewis Professor of Chemistry.

FABIEN KENIG

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO | Steering Committee

fs-LDPI MS mapping of organic compounds in deep time Earth sediments: A tool for determination of the spatial distribution of lipid biosignatures at the micron scale

Sometimes identified as an organic geochemist or a biogeochemist, I prefer to consider myself a geologist. I use organic and stable isotope geochemistry as tools to address issues in earth and environmental sciences.

EVERETT SHOCK

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

Mechanisms of Organic Compound Reactivity in Habitable Worlds

Everett Shock (Arizona State University) studies how planets support life by combining techniques from geochemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, and physical chemistry. His research combines field work in microbial ecosystems (hydrothermal, serpentinizing, sub-glacial) and molecular and geochemical analyses, with experiments on the hydrothermal reactivity of organic compounds and minerals, and theoretical models of energy and power supply to microbiomes during weathering and hydrothermal alteration processes on Earth, asteroids, and ocean worlds.

GORDON CHIN

NASA's GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER | Steering Committee

SELFI (Submillimeter Enceladus Life Fundamentals Instrument)

Gordon Chin has been an Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center since 1979. He obtained his PhD in Physics from Columbia University in 1977. He is the PI on the SELFI project funded under the MatISSE Program.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

KRISTIN BERGMANN

MIT | Steering Committee

The Thermal Maturity of Neoproterozoic Strata: Carbonate Clumped Isotope Thermometry and Biomarker Analyses

Kristin Bergmann is an assistant professor in the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department at MIT. Kristin's multi-disciplinary research – sedimentology and stratigraphy, stable isotope geochemistry of carbonates including clumped-isotope thermometry, and geobiology – focuses on reconstructing the record of environmental change and climate from observations of sedimentary rocks spanning Precambrian to end-Ordovician time. Her approach balances field work and lab work and field sites include Oman, Svalbard and locations across North America. Her current research areas include: 1) combining new approaches to assess the thermal maturity and preservation of organic and geochemical signals in Neoproterozoic rocks, 2) assessing the fallibility of d13C and d18O records in carbonate rocks from the Neoproterozoic to Ordovician and 3) quantifying patterns of carbonate sedimentation through time.

 

KATHLEEN BENISON

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY | Steering Committee

Preservation and detection of extremophiles in Mars-analog halite and gypsum

Kathleen Benison is a professor of geology at West Virginia University. She earned a B.S. in Geology and Chemistry from Bridgewater State College in 1990, a M.A. in Geology at Binghamton University in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1997. Kathy studies the sedimentology, geochemistry, climatology, and biology of modern and ancient acid saline lakes and adjacent eolian deposits and paleosols. The preservation of microorganisms and organic compounds in fluid inclusions in halite and gypsum are two areas of special interest. Her active research field areas include lakes in Australia and Chile, and Permo-Triassic lake deposits in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. She is also interested in chemical sediments on Mars. Kathy has been an associate editor for the Journal of Sedimentary Research, a member of a National Research Council for Mars Sample Return, a grant review panelist for NASA and NSF, and a facilitator for pedagogical and scientific workshops.

 

BRITNEY SCHMIDT

GEORGIA TECH | Co-Lead

Oceans Across Time and Space (OAST)

Britney Schmidt is an Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, where she has built a research group focused on understanding how ice and ocean environments on planets support life. She received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Arizona, and Masters and PhD in Geophysics and Space physics from UCLA. She and her team study Earth’s ice shelves and glaciers to capture the impacts of changing climate on the cryosphere, and use these icy features to explore analogs for Europa and other ice-ocean moons. Britney has helped develop several mission concepts, including the recently selected NASA Europa Clipper mission, the NASA Europa Lander concept, and the LUVOIR Space Telescope concept. She is an investigator on the Europa Clipper REASON ice penetrating radar instrument that will look for water and characterize the ice at Europa. She is an associate of the Dawn Mission team studying the geology of icy materials on dwarf planet Ceres. Britney is an astrobiologist who has spent several years developing underwater vehicles to explore Earth, and hopefully one day, Europa.

 

BROOK NUNN

BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCE | Steering Committee

Using Proteome Dynamics of Psychrophilic Bacteria to Decipher Metabolic Strategies and Protein Signatures Indicative of Sustained Life in Ice

Brook L. Nunn is a research assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Genome Sciences. She holds B.A.s in chemistry and geology from Colorado College, a M.Sc in Chemical Oceanography from the University of Washington, and a PhD in Oceanography from the University of Washington. Prior to joining the Department of Genomce Sciences faculty, she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand with Dr.s Philip Boyd and Russell Frew. She then completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Medical School Mass Spectrometry Center with Dr. David Goodlett. Brook’s research uses state-of-the-art tandem mass spectrometry technology in order to analyze and quantify protein expression from a variety of environmental samples (from soils to corals to glacial ice melt). Her expertise lies with developing much needed bench-top methods for efficiently and quantitatively extracting proteins from these different, complex environmental matrices, in addition to developing bioinformatic tools to decipher mixed microbial system biosignatures. These new methods allow her team to meet their primary objectives: analyze in situ proteomic signatures to understand unique metabolisms and the dynamic functions of complex microbial systems through time and space. Some of her most recent research explores protein signatures and protein turnover from microbes living in sub-zero temperatures in order to provide fundamental new information relevant to NASA Astrobiology and the Network For Life Detection. 
Dr Nunn is working with 4 labs at the University of Washington to explore metabolic strategies of psychrophilic bacteria in salty situations. These UW collaborators are: Dr. Karen Junge (expertise in cryospheric microbes); Dr. Bonnie Light (expertise in physics and chemistry of present day and Snowball Earth brines); and Dr. Jonathan Toner (expertise in Mars relevant brine and theoretical modeling of brine chemistry during freezing/evaporation).