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2004 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2003 – JUN 2004

Post Doc Recruitment - Water and Its Relation to Life in the Universe

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Our research framework design involves supporting a group of postdoctoral scholars who will carry out independent, interdisciplinary research spanning two or more of the investigator’s research specialities. The postdocs will share a common office environment, the “Water Hole,” in an innovative means of fostering interdisciplinary collaborations. Our first recruitment began in August, 2003; our first batch of offers went out this spring, and a group of eight talented postdocs arrived during July through September 2004. The postdocs and their research, as it relates to our group program, are described below.

Andrew Boal — Ph.D., University of Massachusetts (2002), organic chemistry. Currently: Postdoc at Sandia National Laboratories. Andrew will be investigating biomolecular structure and function in extreme aqueous environments. He will be looking at potential designs of molecules that could predate present biomolecules, to develop a picture of those that might have existed in Earth’s early oceans with implications for possible biomolecules on extrasolar planets.

Mark Brown — Ph.D., University of Tasmania (2000), molecular phylogeny of polar sea ice microbial communities. Currently: Postdoc at Wrigley Institute of Environmental Studies. Mark will investigate prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial biogeography in the extreme environments of cold lake ecosystems. This work will have impacts on understanding of biodiversity, evolution, and ecosystem structures.

Lysa Chizmadia — Ph.D., University of New Mexico (2004), Geochemistry. Lysa will investigate the chemistry and isotopic composition of aqueously altered chondritic meteorites to understand the timing and physico-chemical conditions of aqueous alteration in asteriods. This will help clarify how and when water was accreted into asteroids and planets.

Audrey Delsanti — Ph.D., Observatoire de Paris-Meudon (2004), physical properties of Kuiper Belt objects ( KBOs). Currently teaching astronomy to high school teachers. Audrey proposes to investigate the inventory, distribution, and state of water and organic molecules in minor bodies in the outer solar system (comets, KBOs, and icy satellites), using the facilities on Mauna Kea , combined with chemical lab work.

Brian Glazer — Ph.D., University of Delaware (2004), investigation of microbial community structure and function in relation to geochemical redox gradients. Brian will be conducting research on microbial communities showing that the phylogenetic, physiological, and biochemical diversity will reflect environmental geochemistry. Brian will apply his approaches to address the origin of life on earth and its early succession.

Nader Haghighipour — Ph.D., University of Missouri (1999), planetary dynamics. Currently working as a postdoc with Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Nader will be doing a theoretical investigation of the delivery of water to the terrestrial planets as influenced by the planet formation process and dynamical evolution of the system. Nader will also investigate planet formation in dynamically complex systems, focusing on the formation of life-harboring planets.

Norbert Schorghofer — Ph.D., University of Chicago (1998), physics. Currently working as a postdoc with Oded Aharonson at the California Institute of Technology. Norbert will investigate water ice on Mars, in part through theoretical investigations and by using Mars Orbiter data. Mapping the appearance and disappearance of water and carbon dioxide frost, Norbert will investigate the seasonal and inter-annual variations in the water cycle, and will investigate the stability of water at equatorial latitudes.

Weijun Zheng — Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University (2004), chemistry. Weijun will investigate the role of water in the formation of biologically important sugars in hostile extraterrestrial environments in the interstellar medium. Weijun will conduct laboratory investigations on the effects of charged particle processing of interstellar ices.

    Karen Meech Karen Meech
    Project Investigator
    F. Scott Anderson

    Kimberly Binsted

    James Cowen

    Eric Gaidos

    David Jewitt

    Mary Kadooka

    David Karl

    Klaus Keil

    Sasha Krot

    Rolf-Peter Kudritzki

    Gary McMurty

    Michael Mottl

    Tobias Owen

    Bo Reipurth

    Ed Scott

    Jeff Taylor

    Jonathan Williams

    Objective 1.1
    Models of formation and evolution of habitable planets

    Objective 2.1
    Mars exploration

    Objective 2.2
    Outer Solar System exploration

    Objective 3.1
    Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts

    Objective 3.2
    Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules

    Objective 4.1
    Earth's early biosphere

    Objective 5.2
    Co-evolution of microbial communities

    Objective 5.3
    Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments

    Objective 6.1
    Environmental changes and the cycling of elements by the biota, communities, and ecosystems

    Objective 6.2
    Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth

    Objective 7.1
    Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials

    Objective 7.2
    Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems