Harold Brown Professor of Geology; Ted and Ginger Jenkins Leadership Chair
I joined the faculty and division in 2005. My research is focused on the early environmental evolution of both Earth and Mars. By working to understand the chemical and physical conditions of the early oceans and atmosphere on our planet, my research group has been able to determine the influence of those conditions on the early habitability of Mars, and the geologic byproducts of microbial evolution on Earth. The Curiosity rover has been exploring the Red Planet since 2012, gaining insights into how water was involved in the early history of Mars and what its potential role might have been in supporting microbial habitability, had life ever originated there. We are actively involved in that ongoing mission and will be involved in the upcoming 2020 mission.
Members of my lab group work on both Earth and Mars, and some do a little of both. We study both ancient and modern systems. We have ongoing projects on Cryogenian and Ediacaran rocks of Namibia and Brazil, an active field site in the Turks and Caicos that allows us to map the response of microbial mats to perturbations by hurricanes, and the modern and Pleistocene carbonates of alkaline lakes in the western US that record past climate variations, and which serve as analogs for Cretaceous carbonates in the South Atlantic subsurface.