Alumni Updates – Fall 2020

Alumni Updates

The UW Astrobiology Program has graduated over 60 alumni, who have exciting careers as faculty members, scientists, university researchers, industry specialists and entrepreneurs. They’ve all been hard at work this past year and have shared some of their achievements, awards, and scientific publications with us here.

Aomawa Shields (PhD in Astronomy and Astrobiology, 2014) has been hard at work over the past year with her team at UC-Irvine. Aomawa was featured in the book “Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM” written by award-winning author Tonya Bolden! Aomawa and Russel Deitrick (PhD in Astronomy and Astrobiology, 2017) published a paper. “Habitability and Water Loss Limits on Eccentric Planets Orbiting Main Sequence Stars.” Aomawa and Prof. Cecilia Bitz published a paper, “Energy Budgets for Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets“, which was also highlighted in a AAS Nova Article! And Aomawa also published two more papers with her team “The Effect of Land Fraction and Host Star Spectral Energy Distribution on the Planetary Albedo of Terrestrial Worlds” and “The Climates of Other Worlds: A Review of the Emerging Field of Exoplanet Climatology” which were both published in the Astrophysical Journal!

Steve Vance (PhD in ESS and Graduate Certificate in Astrobiology, 2007) and co-authors published a paper, “Simulating Serpentinization as It Could Apply to the Emergence of Life Using the JPL Hydrothermal Reactor“, which took the cover of the February 2020 edition of Astrobiology!

Eva Stüeken (PhD in ESS and Astrobiology, 2014) and Roger Buick published a paper, “Revisiting the depositional environment of the Neoproterozoic Callanna Group, South Australia.”

Mike Kipp (PhD in ESS and Astrobiology, 2019), Eva Stüeken, and Prof. Roger Buick published a paper, “Basinal hydrographic and redox controls on selenium enrichment and isotopic composition in Paleozoic black shales.”

Zach Adams (MS in ESS, 2007) and collaborators published their first high profile publication in PNAS continuing a project Zach started while in the UWAB Program working with Roger Buick!

David Smith (PhD in Biology and Astrobiology, 2012) published a paper in April, “Crewmember microbiome may influence microbial composition of ISS habitable surfaces“, which was highlighted in a NASA news feature! David and his team also published another paper in Scientific Reports, “Sierra Nevada Sweep: Metagenomic Measurements of Bioaerosols Vertically Distributed Across the Troposphere.” Finally, David recently started a 1-2 year assignment to NASA HQ as a Program Officer in the SMD, Planetary Sciences Division, primarily supporting the Astrobiology Program!

Eddie Schwieterman (PhD in Astronomy & Astrobiology, 2016) was interviewed on the Ask and Astrobiologist program!  If you missed the presentation you can watch a recording of it on YouTube here. Eddie and his colleagues at UC-Riverside also hosted the (virtual) ExSoCal 2020!

Giada Arney (PhD in Astronomy and Astrobiology, 2016) was appointed a member of the Panel on Venus for the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey! Giada also served as an editor, along with Victoria Meadows, for a new book titled “Planetary Astrobiology” published by Arizona Press and was highlighted by NASA for Women’s Equality Day!

Steven Sholes (PhD in ESS and Astrobiology, 2018) published a paper, “Where are Mars’ Hypothesized Ocean Shorelines? Large Lateral and Topographic Offsets Between Different Versions of Paleoshoreline Maps“, about work he completed while at the UW about shorelines on Mars.

Erik Goosmann (MS in ESS and Graduate Certificate in Astrobiology, 2018), Prof. David Catling and Prof. Roger Buick published a paper on a failed attempt at determining ancient atmospheric pressure using gas bubble holes in 2.9 billion year old basaltic rocks from Swaziland and South Africa. Though the exercise failed for several reasons, it provided salutary lessons for future efforts to use this method of paleobarometry on old rocks from Earth and, potentially, Mars. Check out the article here

Rika Anderson (PhD in Oceanography and Astrobiology, 2013) published a paper “Radiation of nitrogen-metabolizing enzymes across the tree of life tracks environmental transitions in Earth history” in Geobiology.

Owen Lehmer (PhD in ESS and Astrobiology, 2020) was part of a NASA Exobiology proposal (with Prof. David Catling and Prof. Roger Buick) which was selected for funding. The project extends the micrometeorite research that Owen did for his AB Research Rotation requirement.

Owen Lehmer, Josh Krissansen-Totton (PhD in ESS and Astrobiology, 2019) and Prof. David Catling just had a paper published, “Carbonate-Silicate Cycle Predictions of Earth-Like Planetary Climates and Testing the Habitable Zone Concept“, in Nature Communications.

Jesse Colangelo-Lillis (MS in Oceanography and Graduate Certificate, 2012) was awarded a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship in Astrobiology, working with John Spear (CO School of Mines) and Frank Corsetti (USC) on microbial sulfur and iron cycling in siliceous stromatolites in Yellowstone National Park!

Nicolas Cowan (PhD in ESS and Graduate Certificate, 2009) was awarded the 2019 Harvey B. Richer Gold Medal by the Canadian Astronomical Society and was appointed as the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Climate!

Clara Fuchsman (PhD in Oceanography and Graduate Certificate, 2010) and Eva Stüeken published a paper “Using modern low‐oxygen marine ecosystems to understand the nitrogen cycle of the Paleo‐ and Mesoproterozoic oceans” in Environmental Microbiology! The first version of this paper was originally a final project for Roger Buick’s Early Earth Evolution class many years ago.

Where Are Our Alumni Now?