team

PROJECT
STAFF

UC BERKELEY SITE
Richard A. Mathies, PI
James R. Scherer

Alison Skelley

 

JET PROPULSION
LAB SITE

Frank J. Grunthaner, PI

 

SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY, UC SAN DIEGO SITE
Jeffrey L. Bada, PI

 

COLLABORATORS
Oliver Botta
Pascale Ehrenfreund
Daniel Glavin

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Berkeley


RICHARD A. MATHIES, Ph. D.

Academic Degrees:
B.S. Chemistry, University of Washington, 1968
Ph. D., Physical Chemistry, Cornell University, 1974
 

Career Highlights:

  • Pioneer in the development of microfabricated capillary electrophoresis devices, and microfabricated integrated sample preparation and detection methods and technologies.
  • Developed capillary array electrophoresis technologies and fluorescent energy-transfer labels used to sequence the human genome.
  • Author of over 300 publications and patents on photochemistry, photobiology, bioanalytical chemistry and genome analysis technology.

BioSketch:
Richard A. Mathies received his B. S. Degree in Chemistry in 1968 at the University of Washington. He earned a Ph. D. in 1973 in Physical Chemistry at Cornell University. Following two years of postdoctoral study as a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale, he moved to the Chemistry Department at the University of California at Berkeley in 1976 where he is Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Analytical Biotechnology.

Mathies' work in the area of biotechnology and the Human Genome Project has led to the development of new high-speed, high-throughput DNA analysis technologies such as capillary array electrophoresis and energy transfer fluorescent dye labels for DNA sequencing and analysis.

He also pioneered the development of microfabricated capillary electrophoresis devices, capillary array electrophoresis and microfabricated integrated sample preparation and detection methods. He is author of over 300 publications and patents on photochemistry, photobiology, bioanalytical chemistry and genome analysis technology.

Project Role:
My role is focused on the development of microfabricated chips and their associated instruments and chemical methods that are used for the detection of bioorganic molecules. My group pioneered the development of these microfabricated analysis systems for genomic and genetic analysis, and now we want to exploit these technologies to perform analyses on other solar bodies such as Mars and Europa to look for chemical signs of extinct or extant life. We have a group of 20 scientists working on the development of a variety of new microfluidic technologies. These technologies have recently given us the capability to integrate complex chemical analysis processes within microfluidic systems and to incorporate these methods into portable chips and instruments. Our goal is to perform broadly based searches for chemical signs of extraterrestrial life in the solar system with these devices.

Web Address:
http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/ramgrp

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JAMES R. SCHERER, Ph. D.

Academic Degrees:
B.S. cum laude, Saint Mary’s College, CA, 1953

Ph. D., Vibrational Spectroscopy, University of Minnesota, 1958

Career Highlights:

  • Worked extensively on the vibrational spectroscopy of water and aromatic
    compounds.
  • Developed the world’s first computer controlled Raman spectrometer on a time sharing computer.
  • Designed and constructed systems for four-color confocal capillary scanning that led to a radically new method of scanning of up to 1000 capillaries for DNA sequencing using a rotary scanner (U.S. Patent No. 6,270,644). Design improvements led to prototype rotary scanners (U.S. Patent No. 6,100,535) currently licensed for commerical development.

BioSketch:
Dr. Scherer received his Ph. D. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1958 in the field of Vibrational Spectroscopy under Professor Bryce L Crawford, Jr. He worked in industry (Dow Chemical) as a Research Scientist from 1958 to 1963. In 1963 he joined the Western Regional Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Albany, California working in the area of normal coordinate calculations for aromatic model compounds, Raman spectroscopy of water, developed methods for getting high quality Raman spectra from samples in micro capillaries, and developed the first computer controlled Raman spectrometer system. After a very successful career at the USDA, he joined Richard Mathies group at the University of California at Berkeley in 1989.

His experience in Raman Spectroscopy facilitated the development of confocal scanning systems for DNA analysis. He designed and constructed systems for four color confocal capillary scanning which led to his invention of a radically new method of scanning of up to 1000 capillaries for DNA sequencing and a confocal scanning system for microplates. He has recently completed work to develop a portable single lane DNA fragment analyzer that will be used in real time DNA analysis.

Project Role:
I design and build the small amino acid analyzer utilizing fluorescence detection that can be miniaturized for extraterrestrial exploration. I designed the overall layout for a miniaturized amino acid analyzer system to be used for extraterrestrial exploration using confocal fluorescence detection. My work includes optical design and design of the manifold for interfacing the microfluidic and electrophoresis components.

Web Address:
http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/ramgrp/alpha/

Contact Information:

 

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ALISON SKELLEY

Academic Degree:
BSci, Honors Chemistry, University of Alberta, Canada, 2000

Career Highlights:

  • NSERC Post Graduate Scholarship B, May 2003
  • Advanced to Candidacy, March 2002
  • Awarded Dean's Silver Medal in Science, UofA, 2000

BioSketch:
Alison graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in Honors Chemistry in May 2000.   During her undergraduate degree she did an Honor's thesis with Dr. Norm Dovichi, using capillary electrophoresis to investigate protein expression in cancerous cells.   She started her graduate work in the fall of 2000 at UC Berkeley working in the Mathies research group.   In addition to research, Alison has also spent the last 3 years as a teaching assistant.

Project Role:
I am responsible for developing methods of chiral CE amino acid analysis, testing of the portable analysis device, and design and construction of microfabricated devices used for sample handling and analysis.My initial focus has been characterization of the chiral separation of fluorescamine-labeled amino acids (link to the J Chrom paper). Both composition and chirality can be obtained in under 3 minutes.Second, I have translated this analysis technique over to the portable analysis system, and have demonstrated that the portable analyzer has similar separation efficiency and superior sensitivity compared to the lab-based system. Finally, I have developed a microfabricated device that will contain pumps, a sipper and a separation channel. This device will pump fluid on to the MOD cold finger to dissolve sample, and will direct the sample to the separation channel for CE analysis.

Web Address: http://www.cchem.berkeley.edu/ramgrp/alpha/

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FRANK J. GRUNTHANER, Ph. D.

Academic Degrees:
Ph. D., Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1973

Career Highlights:

  • Developed a comprehensive model for the chemical and electronic structure of the Si/SiO2 interface
  • Initiated the design and development of microchemical laboratories and micromachined instruments for surface chemical exploration of Mars and other planetary scientific missions
  • Designed, proposed and developed the Mars Soil Oxidant (MOx) Experiment which was launched as part of the Mars '96 Small Station Program, a joint U.S., European and Russian mission
  • Awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1986
  • Author or co-author of more than 165 journal papers and has been awarded 14 patents.

BioSketch:
Dr. Frank J. Grunthaner, received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Caltech in 1973, and joined JPL at that time. His Ph.D. advisor was Dr. Harry B. Gray. He is a JPL Senior Research Scientist, in the in situ Technology and Experiments Section. He is a solid-state chemist with extensive experience in MBE growth, RHEED and surface and interface chemistry. He has experience with X-ray and ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy, particularly from the perspective of surface and interface chemistry of oxide/semi-conductor and metal/semiconductor systems.

He has extensive experience in the MBE growth of strained-layer materials, III-V/IV heteroepitaxy and the analysis and control of MBE growth mechanisms. He has also been involved with MBE and UHV surface instrumentation engineering and design. He has pioneered the growth of pseu-domorphic InAs on GaAs, designed and implemented low temperature growth processes for Si homoepitaxy and GaAs on Si by MBE. He has also been involved in the pioneering RHEED research initiated at JPL.

Together with Dr. Paula Grunthaner, he developed a comprehensive model for the chemical and electronic structure of the Si/SiO2 interface. This work has also lead to the development of wafer/wafer bonding technology based on control of the surface and interface chemistry of Si, Si3N4, and SiO2. He has also initiated the design and development of microchemical laboratories and micromachined instruments for surface chemical exploration of Mars and other planetary scientific missions. These micro-instruments have included micro-fabricated charged particle analyzers, miniature Auger electron spectrometers, and quadrupole and ion trap mass spectrometers.

He designed, proposed and developed the Mars Soil Oxidant (MOx) Experiment which was launched as part of the Mars '96 Small Station Program, a joint U.S., European and Russian mission. Current work includes the development of chemical sensor instrumentation to resolve the reactivity of the Martian soil, micro-analyzers for atto-molar detection of organic compounds, and the demonstration of micro-capillary electrophoretic laboratories for the enantiomerically - resolved detection of amino acids in planetary or cometary sur-face environments. He was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1986. He has given more than 45 Invited Papers, has authored or co-authored more than 165 journal papers.

Project Role:
My role in this project is to develop flight-testable hardware. Currently I am working on field testing a flight-testable version of MOD. I'm also responsible for planning future field tests to the Mojave and the Atacama.

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JEFFREY L. BADA, Ph. D.


Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
University of California at San Diego

Academic Degrees:
B.S., San Diego State University, 1965
Ph. D., University of California, San Diego, 1968

Career Highlights:

  • Director of the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training in Exobiology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Developed Mars Organic Detector instrument that was selected for a 2003 mission to Mars (misson subsequently cancelled).
  • Co-author, with Christopher Wills, of the recent book The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup and author of over 180 papers.
  • Member, Geochemical Division of the American Chemical Society, the Geochemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life. Serves on the Editorial Board of Astrobiology

BioSketch:
Jeffrey Bada, a Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, has had a sustained interest in the origin of life for more than 30 years. His first paper, published in 1968 with his mentor Stanley L. Miller, was on the ammonium ion concentration in the primitive oceans. He has since explored a range of topics relevant to the origin of life such as the importance of extraterrestrial sources of organic compounds on the early Earth, the biogeocosmochemistry of amino acids, the origin of homochirality and the use of state-of-the-art analytical methods for the in situ detection of extraterrestrial life.

Professor Bada was Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and is a member of the Geochemical Division of the American Chemical Society, the Geochemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, and is on the Editorial Board of Astrobiology. He is Director of the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training in Exobiology based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Center conducts research on the processes that occurred on the early Earth that resulted in the transition from purely chemical reactions to autonomous self-replicating molecular entities capable of evolving into ones of increasing efficiency and complexity. An instrument Professor Bada developed, the Mars Organic Detector (MOD), was selected for the 2003 mission to Mars (this mission was subsequently cancelled). He is the co-author, with Christopher Wills, of the recent book The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup which has received high reviews.

Project Role:
Jeffrey Bada's research team at UCSD is responsible for the scientific testing and validation of the microchip CE system and for the testing of the fully assembled MOA platform prior to the field campaigns. Dr. Bada will participate in all Science Team meetings and in all field campaigns. He will also perform the laboratory-based analysis of all samples by conventional HPLC in order to establish the ground truth results.

Selected publications (last 5 years):
(Dr. Bada has published over 180 papers)

Kminek, G., J. L. Bada, K. Pogliano,J. F. Ward, 2003 Radiation-dependent limit for the viability of bacterial spores in halite fluid inclusions and on Mars, Rad. Res. 159, 722-729.

Bada, J. L., A. Lazcano, 2003. Prebiotic chemistry: revisiting the Miller experiment, Science 300, 745-746.

Bada, J.L., A. Lazcano, 2002 Origin of Life – Some like it hot, but not the first biomolecules, Science 296 , 1982-1983.

Bada, J. L., 2001. State-of-the-art instruments for detecting extraterrestrial life. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98, 2138-2141.

Glavin, D. P., Schubert, M., Botta, O., Kminek, G. and Bada, J. L., 2001. Detecting pyrolysis products from bacteria on Mars. Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett. 185 , 1-5.

Web Address:
http://exobio.ucsd.edu/bada.htm

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OLIVER BOTTA, Ph. D.


Junior Visiting Scientist
International Space Science Institute
Bern, Switzerland

Academic Degrees:
Diploma in Chemistry, University of Basel, Switzerland, 1993
Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Basel, Switzerland, 1999
 

Career Highlights:

  • Used High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to investigate the organic composition of carbonaceous meteorites. Investigated the relative amino acid composition of carbonaceous chondrites to provide insight into the formation processes on the parent bodies.
  • 1999-2002 Post-doc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD 2002-2004 External ESA Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.
  • Worked the behavior of the reactions of amino acids with fluorescamine as well as the fluorescence responses of PAHs as part of the original MOD 03 design.
  • Member of the 2003/04 Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) Team, deployed to a 6-week field camp at the LaPaz Icefield Region, Antarctica.

BioSketch:
Oliver graduated from the University of Basel, Switzerland, with a Ph.D. degree in synthetic organic chemistry. For his thesis, he worked on the synthesis of modified nucleosides that were used for biochemical studies of tRNA.

During his postdoc at Scripps, he investigated the amino acid composition of carbonaceous chondrites, applying relative amino acid compositions as signatures for parent body processes. He built up his expertise in organic analyses of meteorites, establishing laboratory protocols and using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to search for amino acids and nucleobases in carbonaceous chondrites.

In addition, he investigated the chemical reaction of amino acids with the fluorescence label fluorescamine under the conditions that would be relevant for the Mars Organic Detector (MOD). The results of this investigation provided important inputs into the design of the original MOD 03 instrument.

At the University of Leiden, Oliver built up a laboratory for organic meteorite analyses, while continuing his projects and supervising a graduate student. In addition, he also participated in radioastronomical observations, aiming at the search for aromatic molecules in circumstellar environments..

Project Role:
For this project, I will contribute through ground support experiments of organic compounds in the Mars simulation chamber. I will also contribute to the development of MOD hardware and spectroscopic analysis of fluorescence reaction products. Furthermore, I will be responsible for the calibration of the MOD instrument. I will use natural samples (such as meteorites and sediments) as well as artificial samples (Mars soil analogues, spiked with organic compounds or inoculated with bacterial cells) to test the performance of the MOD sublimation device and analytical instrument and compare it to results from other analytical techniques (GC-MS/HPLC).

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PASCALE EHRENFREUND, Ph. D.

Academic Degrees:
B.S., Protein Chemistry, Academy of Sciences/University of Vienna, 1988
Ph.D., Astrophysics, Univ. Paris VII/University of Vienna, 1990
Habilitation in Astrochemistry, University of Vienna, 1999
 

Career Highlights:

  • Conducts an interdisciplinary research program on the stability of organic molecules in different space environments (laboratory studies, astronomical observations, space experiments) including Mars simulation studies
  • Serves as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on many different ESA space missions including satellites, planetary missions and experiments on the International Space Station
  • Vice President of the European Astrobiology Network Association

BioSketch:
Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund received her Ph. D. degree from the University of Vienna in 1990 in the field of Astrophysics where she investigated a newly detected component in interstellar space, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). She is currently Professor of Astrochemistry/Astrobiology at the Univ. of Amsterdam. Her expertise includes molecular biology and the characterization of cosmic dust in the laboratory with spectroscopic techniques and other analytical methods relevant to interstellar chemistry and Solar System research. During her postdoctoral years in Paris and Leiden she worked for the Cassini-Huygens mission and for the Infrared Space Observatory ISO. She is also a trained observer and has performed for more than a decade supporting astronomical observations (optical, IR, radio) of ices and organic material toward interstellar and circumstellar targets.

Prof. Ehrenfreund’s work is now focused on research areas in Astrobiology. Her activities in space research include an experiment currently prepared for the European space facility EXPOSE on the International Space Station which studies the photostability of organics (such as PAHs, fullerenes and prebiotic molecules) in space environment. Her ground-based Mars simulation program will for the first time provide a comprehensive dataset on the survival of organic and prebiotic molecules on the Martian surface/subsurface and serve for the interpretation of future Mars missions. Prof. Ehrenfreund is also Co-Investigator on 3 instruments (COSAC, VIRTIS, MIDAS) for the ROSETTA comet rendezvous mission, which study the composition and structure of cometary dust and volatiles.

Project Role:
Pascale Ehrenfreund’s research team at Amsterdam and Leiden Universities supports the scientific testing and validation of the Mars Astrobiology Probe (MAP). Her laboratory investigates the photostability of organic molecules in space, the evolutionary cycle of dust and molecules between evolved stars, the interstellar medium, forming stars, comets, meteorites and the origin of life. In collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), her team investigates organic molecules subjected to simulated Martian conditions. She is the European PI (Deputy PI Jeff Bada) of MAP proposed as payload for the Pasteur lander (ESA-EXOMARS 2009 mission).

Web Address:
http://www.astrobiology.nl

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DANIEL P. GLAVIN, Ph. D.

Academic Degrees:
B.S., Physics, University of California at San Diego (UCSD), 1996
Ph. D., Earth Science, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, 2001
 

Career Highlights:

  • Awarded NASA Specialized Center for Research and Training graduate fellowship for research in Exobiology
  • Developed and tested laboratory sublimation prototype for the original MOD instrument concept
  • Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) team member and recipient of 2003 Congressional Antarctic Service Award Medal

BioSketch:
Danny Glavin graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B. S. in Physics in 1996 and then started his graduate studies at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography working in Jeff Bada’s laboratory.

In 1997, he was awarded a 3-year NASA Specialized Center for Research in Training (NSCORT) fellowship for research in Exobiology. As part of his thesis research he carried out amino acid investigations of several meteorite samples, including the Martian meteorite ALH84001, and studied the role that sublimation played in the survival of organic compounds during exogenous delivery to the early Earth and Mars.

After earning his Ph. D. in 2001 in Earth Science at UCSD, he moved to Germany to accept a 2-year postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz to study the chromium chemistry of meteorites related to early solar system chronology. While in Germany, he participated in the 2002-03 Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) team that collected over 600 meteorites from the La Paz and MacAlpine Hills ice fields.

He is currently working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to develop techniques to extract organic compounds from Martian analog materials for future in situ life detection instruments. Dr. Glavin aspires to be a mission specialist in the NASA Astronaut Program.

Project Role:
Dr. Glavin has contributed to the development of the sublimation based extraction method that will be used by MAP to isolate a variety of organic compounds including amino acids, amines, and nucleobases from Martian soil analogues. He is continuing to investigate sublimation as well as other liquid extraction methods that could be used by future Mars in situ organic detection instruments. Dr. Glavin will participate in all MAP Science Team meetings and carry out laboratory-based analyses using conventional techniques as required.

Selected publications (last 5 years):

Glavin, D. P., Kubny, A., Jagoutz, E., and Lugmair, G. W. (2004) Mn-Cr isotope systematics of the D’Orbigny angrite. Meteor. Planet. Sci., 39, 693-700.

Glavin, D. P., Matrajt, G., and Bada, J. L. (2004) Re-examination of amino acids in Antarctic micrometeorites. Adv. Space Res. 33, 106-113.

Glavin, D. P., Schubert, M., and Bada, J. L. (2002) Direct isolation of purines and pyrimidines from nucleic acids using sublimation. Anal. Chem. 74, 6408-6412.

Glavin, D. P. and Bada, J. L. (2001) Survival of amino acids in micrometeorites during atmospheric entry. Astrobiology 1, 259-269.

Glavin, D. P., Bada, J. L., Brinton, K. L. F., and McDonald, G. D. (1999) Amino acids in the Martian meteorite Nakhla. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96, 8835-38.

Web Address:
http://exobio.ucsd.edu/glavin.htm

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JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Postdoctoral Position

1 year or longer. Bioengineering, Bioanalytical chemistry, Biophysical chemistry, MEMS. Position initially for one year and extendable for second year. Develop microfabricated lab-on-a-chip chemical and biochemical analysis systems that will be used for the detection of bioorganic molecules in solar system (especially Mars) exploration as part of a NASA project. Experience in bioanalytical chemistry and/or microfabrication desirable.

Send resume and three references to: Prof. Richard Mathies, Chem. Dept., Univ. of Calif., Berkeley CA 94720-1460 or email: Mary Hammond.

Students

Graduate student researchers and undergraduate volunteers interested in joining the Berkeley Astrobiology project, please contact Richard Mathies.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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