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University of Washington Astrobiology Program

Fall 2014

Faculty Spotlight: Prof. Jody Deming

By Max Showalter
UW Astrobiology Graduate Student

UWAB faculty member Jody Deming has made a living studying life where one might least expect to find it. As the Walters Endowed Professor in the School of Oceanography, Deming studies the limits of microbial life and particularly cold adaptation in marine microorganisms. Most recently, her research has focused on the model marine psychrophilic (cold-loving) bacterium Colwellia psychrerythraea 34H, its interactions with sea ice communities, and the role of extracellular enzymes and exopolymers in facilitating life at very low temperatures. Microbial forms of life in various types of Arctic and Antarctic ice provide analogs for what we may expect to find on icy moons like Europa or Enceladus.

Deming earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland (1981) focusing on pressure-adapted bacteria in the cold deep sea in association with deep-sea invertebrates and particles descending towards the seafloor.  With the discovery of hydrothermal vents, she did research on thermophiles under deep-sea pressure as a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, then as a Research Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University.  She began her career at the University of Washington in 1988, where she helped establish the Astrobiology program, has received a number of awards, including the U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal (1993), was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2003), and received a doctorate honoris causa from Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada, 2006).

For more information about Jody Deming and her work, visit her website.

Photo: Jody Deming, Walters Endowed Professor of Oceanography.

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