Rika Anderson [EMAIL]

Dual-Title PhD,
Oceanography & Astrobiology (2013)

NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Astrobiology Institute

Box Number: 357940

Astrobiology Areas of Interest: Origin & Evolution of Life on Earth, Life in Extreme Environments, Education & Outreach


I am a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow with the NASA Astrobiology Institute. I am currently working with Rachel Whitaker (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Julie Huber (Marine Biological Laboratory), as well as members of the University of Washington astrobiology community, to better understand how microbes evolve over time, both now and in the past, through the process of gene gain and loss. 
I graduated from the UW in 2013 with a PhD in Oceanography and Astrobiology. I worked with Professor John Baross on the ecology and evolution of microbial communities at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. We worked to better understand the ways in which viruses, which most people consider to be harmful parasites, may actually help their bacterial and archaeal hosts to better survive in the harsh conditions of hydrothermal vent environments.
Through all of this work, we hope to gain insight into the fundamental evolutionary processes occurring in these extreme environments, which may help us understand how life could operate in similar environments on other planetary bodies as well as in the origin and early evolution of life itself.