2009 Annual Science Report
Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting | JUL 2008 – AUG 2009
NAI ORAU Post Doc Report: CIW-NAI
During the past funding period there were two NAI-ORAU Post Docs associated with the CIW-NAI Team. Dr. Dina Bower came the Geophysical Laboratory in January 2009 after receiving her Ph.D. from Old Dominion University. Dina is currently working with and mentored by CoI Andrew Steele. Dina’s project focuses on establishing the mechanism by which organic-inorganic interactions yield an inorganic fossil record. Her project involves both laboratory and field based studies. She has participated in two field investigations, one to the sulfate deposits in the desert of White Sands, NM, the other to the Tablelands Ophiolite in Newfoundland, Canada (see Project 5 report for details). In the laboratory, Dina is seeking to explain TiO2 enrichment horizons in sedimentary rocks that have been attributed to bio-organic/inorganic associations through a set of carefully controlled incubation experiments with model organic substrates as well as pure culture micro-organisms and TiO2 nanoparticles.
Our second NAI-ORAU Post Doc is Dr. Henderson (Jim) Cleaves who started late in the last funding period (August 3rd, 2009). Jim received his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego. At the CIW-NAI Jim is working with and mentored by PI Cody. Jim’s primary project is focused on prebiotic chemistry initiated by small molecule reactions between formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide and reaction intermediates. Jim will also be working with CoI Hazen and Sverjensky on organic mineral interactions; in particular in demonstrating that oligomerization may be facilitated through organic-mineral associations. During the next funding period Jim’s research will contribute primarily to Project 4 and also to Project 2.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Dina Bower
PROJECT MEMBERS:George Cody
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 3.1
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules
Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials