Emilie Skoog

PhD Student in Geobiology
Contact: skoog@mit.edu

I am interested in understanding the origin and evolution of life on early Earth by looking at microorganisms preserved in the rock record and analyzing modern analogs found in microbial mats today. My current research focuses on performing metagenomic and physiological analyses of these extant cyanobacteria from ancient stromatolites across the globe.






James Hall

PhD Student in Geobiology
Contact: jayhall@mit.edu

I am interested in how organisms/organic molecules are preserved in the rock record. In my current work I am conducting experiments under ancient Martian conditions to understand how different types of organic molecules and microbes could be preserved in the sediments. These results will have drastic implication for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. In work I have previously done, I looked at the preservation of soft-bodied organisms from the Ediacaran Wood Canyon formation in Nevada, and how the clay and quartz grains within these rocks lead to the quality of the organism’s preservation.






Matt Baldes

PhD Student in Geobiology
Contact: mbaldes@mit.edu

I am interested in how metabolism and organic structures in microbial mat communities influence changes in aqueous chemistry and induce mineral precipitation; in particular, how modern organisms can be used as analogs for microbe mineral interactions in past environments to reconstruct their role in shaping the geologic record and enhance our ability to detect potential biosignatures of early life on Earth and Mars. My current research focuses on mechanisms by which photosynthetic benthic cyanobacteria and their organic products influence the precipitation of high magnesium carbonates and the mineralogy of these precipitates, in terms of species and texture, relative to abiotically precipitated minerals.





Elise Cutts

PhD Student in Geobiology
Contact: ecutts@mit.edu