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The Astrophysical Context of Life D Committee Member and Staff Biographies COMMITTEE MEMBERS JACK W. SZOSTAK (Co-chair) is the Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. A distinguished molecular biologist, Dr. Szostak has made groundbreaking contributions in several different areas of biology, most recently to the understanding of the origins of biological catalysis. He has contributed more than 100 articles to scientific journals. He served as co-chair of the Nucleic Acids Gordon Research Conference in 1993 and of the Keystone Symposium on RNA in 1996, and he was the Harvey Society Lecturer in 1998. Dr. Szostak was awarded, along with Gerald Joyce, the National Academy of Sciences award in molecular biology in 1994 and the Hans Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern in 1997. He participated in the SSB’s workshop “Research Issues Regarding Alternative Life Forms (Weird Life).” Dr. Szostak is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. J. CRAIG WHEELER (Co-chair) is the Samuel T. and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin and past chair of the department. His research interests cover supernovas and black holes. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and a novel and has edited four books. A popular science lecturer, Dr. Wheeler has received many awards for his teaching. He was a visiting fellow at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and a Fulbright fellow in Italy. He has served on a number of advisory committees, including at the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and on the organizing committee of the International Astronomical Union Commission on Stellar Constitution. He is currently serving as president-elect of the AAS. Dr. Wheeler previously served on the NRC Steering Committee for the Task Group on Space Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1996-1997. STEVEN A. BENNER is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Florida. Dr. Benner’s research involves various facets of biochemistry and biorganic studies, with emphases on bioinformatics, experimental paleobiochemistry, nucleic acid chemistry, small molecule evolution,
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The Astrophysical Context of Life astrobiology, and nanotechnology. His lectures have had titles such as “Genomic Sequences as Organic Molecules: An Evolutionary Approach to Understanding What They Do,” “Reconstructing the Chemical Past: Experimental Paleobiochemistry,” and “Redesigning Nucleic Acids: Obtaining Molecular Evolution in the Laboratory.” JOSEPH A. BERRY is staff member in the Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Berry’s research interests are in photosyntheses and respiration and in how biochemical and biophysical mechanisms propagate to the planetary scale. Recently, he devoted a substantial portion of his time to an interdisciplinary research project sponsored by NASA under its Earth Observing System, the goal of which was to assemble a scientific basis for modeling the interactions between the biosphere and the atmosphere on a global scale. Dr. Berry was a member of the NRC Global Climate Change Study Panel in 1991 and 1992. RUTH BLAKE is an assistant professor of geology and geophysics and of environmental engineering at Yale University. Her research interests cover geomicrobiology and microbial geochemistry/biochemistry, low-temperature aqueous/experimental geochemistry, and stable isotope geochemistry. Dr. Blake has studied the use of oxygen isotope variations in phosphate from fish remains to decipher ancient climate from deep-sea cores. She also participated in Yale’s Distinguished Lecturers Series as an expert on microbes in the deep biosphere. WENDY M. CALVIN is the Arthur Brant Research Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before that, from 1992 to 1999, Dr. Calvin served as research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Team, in Flagstaff, Arizona. Specializing in infrared spectroscopy, Dr. Calvin emphasizes understanding the nature and association of water, volatile ices, and minerals in order to better understand the physical and chemical processes occurring in a variety of planetary and space environments. She is skilled in both visible/near-infrared emissions and surface thermal emissions. Her current research includes studies of alteration minerals on Mars to understand climate history and variability and volatile element transport and sequestrations. She was a coinvestigator for the camera that was on the Mars Climate Orbiter mission in 1998 (MARCI). Dr. Calvin was a member of the NRC Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration from 1997 to 2000. MICHAEL J. DALY is an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. His research interests focus on microbial genetics and the DNA repair mechanisms of the highly radiation-resistant organism Deinococcus radiodurans. Most recently, Dr. Daly has been engineering D. radiodurans for the bioremediation of toxic organic compounds, radionuclides, and heavy metals in radioactive waste sites. He is also interested in adaptations to microorganisms that may enable them to survive in cryptobiotic states for millions of years. Dr. Daly served on the NRC Task Group on the Forward Contamination of Europa (1999-2000). KATHERINE H. FREEMAN is professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and associate director, PSU Biogeochemical Research Initiative in Education (NSF-IGERT). Her current research interests are in organic geochemistry and isotopic biogeochemistry. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. Freeman served as a member of the review panels for the Program in Chemical Oceanography and the Program in Environmental Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry. In 1999 she served on the NRC Committee on Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences.
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The Astrophysical Context of Life J. PETER GOGARTEN is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Connecticut. His research interests are molecular evolution; evolution of the eukaryotic endomembrane system; origin and early evolution of cellular life; horizontal gene transfer; and genome comparison. Dr. Gogarten is currently involved in several research programs, including one on the evolution of proton pumping ATPases and another on the role of horizontal gene transfer. His professional activities include serving as chair of the 2005 Origin of Life Gordon Conference, as a member of the Exobiology Discipline Working Group (NASA), and as co-head of the Plant Cell Culture Facility of the University of Connecticut’s Biotechnology Center. Dr. Gogarten is a member of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, the American Association of Plant Physiologists, and the New England Complex Systems Institute. JAMES F. KASTING is a professor of geosciences and meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. He is a specialist in atmospheric evolution on Earth and on the other terrestrial planets. Before coming to Penn State University in 1988, he spent 2 years at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and 7 years in the Space Science Division at NASA-Ames Research Center. Dr. Kasting is a former member of the NRC Committee for the US-USSR Workshop on Planetary Sciences. ANTHONY KEEFE is a senior scientist in the Discovery of Therapeutic Biopolymers group at Archemix Corporation. Before that, Dr. Keefe served as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He has also served as a senior research associate at NASA’s Ames Research Center and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Keefe’s research and interests include protein engineering, in vitro translation, plasmid engineering, synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry, mass spectroscopy, and electrochemistry. He has written widely on the above areas and holds several patents. MARTIN KELLER is the director of the Diversity and Discovery Group at Diversa Corporation. Diversa is a global leader in developing and applying proprietary technologies to discover and evolve novel genes and gene pathways from diverse sources. Dr. Keller is responsible for studies of microbial diversity, proteomics biopanning, and flow cytometry. Dr. Keller has received grants to study fluorescent activated cell sorting for enzyme screening and served as co-principal investigator for DOE’s Genomes to Life program on stress response pathways. SANDRA PIZZARELLO, an exobiologist, is a faculty research associate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University. Dr. Pizzarello’s research activity over the last 24 years has focused on the study of organic components of carbonaceous chondrites. The work has contributed to the recognition, identification, and molecular and isotopic characterization of their main extractable organic constituents. She is currently assessing the organic content of the Tagish Lake meteorite, a new, pristine carbonaceous chondrite that fell in Canada. Dr. Pizzarello is principal investigator for a NASA study on chiral analyses of organic compounds in carbonaceous meteroites and she is also coinvestigator and collaborator for a NASA study on hydrogen isotopic compositions of individual organic compounds in carbonaceous meteorites. JANET L. SIEFERT is a faculty fellow in the Department of Statistics, Rice University. She also serves as a faculty mentor at the W.M. Keck Center for Computational and Structural Biology. Her research interests are phylogeny reconstruction, prokaryotic biochemical systems and ecosystem evolution, ori-
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The Astrophysical Context of Life gin of life, RNAs, and astrobiology. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ruth Satter Memorial Citation of Merit, the award of the Association for Women in Science, and the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds short-term fellowship for study at the Gesellschaft fuer Biotechnologische Forschung. She collaborated with several colleagues recently on a project entitled “Phylogenetic Analysis and Molecular Modeling of Ribozyme Variants.” ROGER SUMMONS is a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a member of the Earth System Initiative, where he and his team collaborate with microbiologists and ecologists to identify and study environmentally and geologically significant processes that are mediated by microorganisms. His laboratory research focuses on biogeochemistry of microbial ecosystems, chemistry of biomarkers and molecular fossils, isotopic biosignatures, geochemistry of petroleum, and coevolution of life and Earth’s surface environment. Dr. Summons is a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. NEVILLE J. WOOLF is a professor in the Department of Astronomy and the Steward Observatory, University of Arizona. His research interests cover instrumentation, the search for extrasolar planets, and the development of interferometry. He served as a research associate astronomer at Lick Observatory and as a NRC senior fellow at NASA-Goddard Research Center. Dr. Woolf lectures on the possible existence of life on other planets. LUCY M. ZIURYS holds a joint appointment as professor in the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Arizona. She is currently on staff at the Steward Observatory. Dr. Ziurys’s areas of specialization are interstellar chemistry; millimeter/submillimeter high-resolution laboratory molecular spectroscopy; millimeter/submillimeter observations of interstellar molecules; millimeter-wave devices for astronomical and laboratory applications; and laboratory production of transient molecules. Her honors and awards include NSF Presidential Young Investigator (1990) and Presidential Faculty Fellow (1992). In 1999 she won the prestigious Morino Lectureship from the University of Tokyo for her scientific work in the field of molecular spectroscopy and its application to the astrochemistry of the interstellar medium. Dr. Ziurys has been actively involved in the discovery of interstellar molecules in interstellar space. STAFF DAVID H. SMITH joined the staff of the Space Studies Board in 1991. He is the senior staff officer and study director for a variety of NRC activities, including the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration and the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life. He received a B.Sc. in mathematical physics from the University of Liverpool in 1976 and a D.Phil. in theoretical astrophysics from Sussex University in 1981. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Queen Mary College, University of London (1980-1982), he held the position of associate editor and, later, technical editor of Sky and Telescope. Immediately before joining the staff of the Space Studies Board, Dr. Smith was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990-1991). ROBERT L. RIEMER joined the staff of the National Research Council in 1985. He served as senior program officer for the two most recent decadal surveys of astronomy and astrophysics and has worked on studies in many areas of physics and astronomy for the Board on Physics and Astronomy, where he
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The Astrophysical Context of Life served as associate director from 1988 to 2000, and the Space Studies Board. Prior to joining the NRC, Dr. Riemer was a senior project geophysicist with Chevron Corporation. He received his Ph.D. in experimental high-energy physics from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and his B.S. in physics and astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. RODNEY N. HOWARD joined the Space Studies Board as a senior project assistant in 2002. Before joining SSB, most of his vocational life was spent in the health profession—as a pharmacy technologist at Doctor’s Hospital in Lanham, Maryland, and as an interim center administrator at the Concentra Medical Center in Jessup, Maryland. During that time, he participated in a number of Quality Circle Initiatives which were designed to improve relations between management and staff. Mr. Howard obtained his B.A. in communications from the University of Baltimore County in 1983. He plans to begin coursework next year for his master’s degree in business administration. CATHERINE A. GRUBER is an assistant editor with the Space Studies Board. She joined SSB as a senior program assistant in 1995. Ms. Gruber first came to the NRC in 1988 as a senior secretary for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and has also worked as a outreach assistant for the National Academy of Sciences-Smithsonian Institution’s National Science Resources Center. She was a research assistant (chemist) in the National Institute of Mental Health’s Laboratory of Cell Biology for 2 years. She has a B.A. in natural science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
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