I study the physiology of photosynthetic bacteria in extreme environments, and the production and preservation of in situ biosignatures such as lipid biomarkers, microfossils, and biofabrics. I also characterize remotely detectable photosynthetic biosignatures, such as biogenic gases and reflectance spectra that might be visible on a habitable exoplanet. The biogenic gas work is funded by the NAI Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team led by Vikki Meadows at the University of Washington.
I am also dedicated to education and public outreach, and as part of the NAI Ames team led by Dave Des Marais, we annually work with thirteen high school astrobiology interns in a year-long research program that provides training and mentoring in field work and laboratory experiments, report writing, and presentation of their research to the general public. The focus of this program is place-based learning at Lassen Volcanic National Park in collaboration with Education Specialist Steve Zachary and Red Bluff High School.