Meet our dedicated Georgia Tech Astrobiology faculty!
Mariel Borowitz is an Assistant Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Her research deals with international space policy issues, including international cooperation in Earth observing satellites and satellite data sharing policies. She also focuses on strategy and developments in space security and space situational awareness. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters degree in International Science and Technology Policy from the George Washington University, and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Maryland. Dr. Borowitz completed a detail as a policy analyst for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC from 2016 to 2018. Her book, “Open Space: The Global Effort for Open Access to Environmental Satellite Data,” was published by MIT Press in 2017.
Aerospace Engineering &
Earth Atmos Sciences
Christopher Carr is an engineer/scientist with training in aero/astro and electrical engineering, medical physics, and molecular biology. His lab applies single molecule detection technologies to instrument development for life detection beyond Earth. He is a Research Scientist at MIT in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, a Research Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the Department of Molecular Biology, and a Scott M. Johnson Fellow in the U.S. Japan Leadership Program. He will join the Georgia Tech faculty as an Assistant Professor in summer 2020, with a joint appointment in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS).
Earth & AtmosPHERIC Sciences
Jennifer Glass is an Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. She earned Bachelors degrees in Earth Sciences and Oceanography from the University of Washington, and a PhD in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University. She was a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech from 2011-2013. She joined Georgia Tech as a faculty member in 2013. Her group studies the early evolution of life on Earth and the habitability of gas hydrates. She is a member of the Oceans Across Space and Time (OAST) and Center for the Origin of Life (COOL), and director of the Astrobiology Graduate Certificate Program. She currently serves on the NASA Planetary Science Advisory Council (PAC; 2020-2023).
Chemical & Biomolecular
Martha Grover is a Professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and ChBE’s Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. She earned a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech. She joined Georgia Tech as a faculty member in 2003. She is a member of the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution, and its faculty lead for education, outreach, and diversity.
Chemistry & biochemistry
Nicholas Hud is a Regent’s Professor in the School of Chemistry & Biochemistry. He received his bachelors degree from Loyola Marymount University and his PhD from University of California Davis. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at UCLA. He joined the faculty of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech in 1999. He currently serves as Director of the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution (CCE), and as Associate Director of the Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB). He was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2019, Fellow of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life in 2014, and was a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer 2015-2017.
Margaret Kosal is an Associate Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and director of the Sam Nunn Security Program. She holds a bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of Southern California and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 2008, she co-founded of a sensor company, served as Science and Technology Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as an Associate to the National Intelligence Council. From 2012-2013, she served as a Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. Her research explores the relationships among technology, strategy, and governance.
Gongjie Li is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics. She received her Bachelors degree in astrophysics from Caltech and a PhD degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Harvard, followed by a Junior Fellowship at Harvard. She joined Georgia Tech in 2018. Her research group is focused on the formation and habitability of exoplanets.
Glenn Lightsey is the David Lewis Professor of Space Systems Technology in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering. He earned a Bachelors in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton, a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. He was joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2014; previously, he was on the faculty at University of Texas Austin. His research focuses on the technology of small satellites. He is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Fellow, Associate Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Small Satellites, director of the Space Systems Design Lab, and director of the Center for Space Technology And Research (CSTAR).
Chemistry & BIochemistry
Thomas Orlando is a Professor in the School of Chemistry & Biochemistry. He earned a Bachelors in Chemistry from Southampton College and a PhD in Chemistry from SUNY Stony Brook. He directs the Electron- and Photon-Induced Chemistry on Surfaces Lab (EPICS) and the global multidisciplinary team REVEALS (Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces). His group seeks to understand the important role electronic excitations of surfaces and interfaces play in chemical transformations, which can occur in radiation environments within the interstellar media, plasmas, or planetary magnetospheres.
William Ratcliff is an Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences. He earned a Bachelors degrees in plant biology from University of California Davis, and a PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from University of Minnesota. He joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2014. His group has developed new experimental methods to study how among-organism genetic conflict arises and can be mitigated. His group studies the origin of complex life, namely, how new organisms arise and evolve to be more complex without succumbing to conflict.
EArth & Atmospheric Sciences
EARTH & ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES
Frank Rosenzweig is a Professor in School of Biological Sciences. He holds Bachelors degrees in Comparative Literature and Zoology from University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and a PhD in Biology at University of Pennsylvania. He carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan. He was a professor at University of Idaho, University of Florida, and University of Montana before joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 2016. He served as the Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute funded center “Reliving the Past” from 2015 to 2019. His research group studies the ecological and evolutionary forces that produce and preserve genetic variation using experimental evolution to illuminate how genetic variation maps onto organismal fitness.
EARTH & ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES
Britney Schmidt is an Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. She earned a Bachelors degree in Physics from the University of Arizona and a PhD in Geophysics and Space Physics from University of California Los Angeles. Her Planetary Habitability and Technology Lab studies planetary ices and habitability of icy worlds. She is the PI of Icefin robot, RISE-UP (Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe project; NASA PSTAR), and the NASA center Oceans Across Space & Time (OAST). Her group performs comprehensive studies of geophysics and biology beneath the Antarctic ice shelf using integrated imaging, ice penetrating radar, and subsurface exploration by marine vehicles.
Ask-An-Astrobiologist: Britney Schmidt
chemistry & Biochemistry
Amanda Stockton is an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemistry & Biochemistry. She earned a Bachelors degrees in Chemistry and Aerospace Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Masters in Chemistry from Brown, and a PhD in Chemistry from University of California Berkeley. Prior to joining the Georgia Tech faculty in 2015, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her research group develops instruments for in situ organic analysis in search for extraterrestrial life. She is the PI of FELDSPAR, Field Exploration and Life Detection Sampling for Planetary and Astrobiology Research, which explores Icelandic lava flows as Mars analogs.
Loren Dean Williams
chemistry & biochemistry
Loren Dean Williams is a Professor in the School of Chemistry & Biochemistry. He received his Bachelors degree in Chemistry from the University of Washington, and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Duke University, followed by ACS and NIH postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and MIT. He joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 1992. He was Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute funded RiboEvo Center from 2008 to 2015. Loren is currently a Co-Lead of the Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environment Consortium (PCE3, a NASA Research Coordination Network) and is Director of the NASA-funded Center for the Origin of Life (COOL). His group works to understand the origins of the ribosome and the translation system as a proxy for biological complexity, the basis of the universal tree of life, and a molecular repository of deep biochemical history.
Earth & atmospheric Sciences
James Wray is an Associate Professor in the School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. He earned a Bachelors degrees in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton and a PhD in Astronomy from Cornell. He joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 2011. His research uses spacecraft observations of solar system planetary bodies to probe their surface processes and compositions, with the ultimate goal of understanding how planetary environments have evolved over time, and whether/when/where they have been habitable. The inventory of water on Mars today and in the past, and that water’s chemistry and physical properties, are of particular interest. His group also uses laboratory and field-based measurements, e.g. reflectance spectroscopy, of planetary analog materials for comparison to spacecraft data.
Literature, media & Communication
Lisa Yaszek is Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, where she explores science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures. She earned a Bachelors in English from University of Michigan, and Masters and PhD degrees in English from University of Wisconsin. Her books include Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women’s Science Fiction (Ohio State, 2008), Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction (Wesleyan 2016), and The Future is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women (Library of America, 2018). A past president of the Science Fiction Research Association, Yaszek currently serves as a juror for the John W. Campbell and Eugie Foster Science Fiction Awards.