Interfaces of all kinds (atmosphere-hydrosphere, atmosphere-lithosphere and lithosphere-hydrosphere) typify the environments we study: it is “where the action is ” in Geobiology.

Geobiology at USC

USC Geobiology / Astrobiology is a diverse program with a keen interest in pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary research. Our program can be broadly organized around 3 main themes:

1) The modern biogeochemical processes perspective: examining the way in which life and the geosphere interact in modern systems

Supporting faculty: Jan Amend, Will Berelson, Doug Capone, Dave Caron, Dave Hutchins, Jed Fuhrman, Jim Moffett, Ken Nealson, Sergio Sañudo-Wilhelmy, Eric Webb and Wiebke Ziebis

2) The time perspective: putting what we know about modern systems into a paleo-type perspective

Supporting faculty: Dave Bottjer and Frank Corsetti

3) The molecular perspective: adding the techniques and approaches of molecular genetics, genomics, and metagenomics to understand life, and its signals and signatures at a new level

Supporting faculty: Jan Amend, Doug Capone, Dave Caron, Steve Finkel, Jed Fuhrman, John Heidelberg, Karla Heidelberg, Dave Hutchins, Ken Nealson and Eric Webb

4)Astrobiology: investigating microbial life in extreme environments on Earth, especially in the continental and marine subsurface, with links to past and present habitability on Mars, Europa, and other extraterrestrial bodies.

Supporting faculty: Jan Amend, Doug LaRowe, Ken Nealson, Moh El-Naggar


These four perspectives pervade the highly interdisciplinary research of the geobiology group, the teaching of the geobiology group (both undergraduate and graduate), and the way in which future growth of the group is envisioned.   They also account for why the group is highly sought after for collaborations with several Department of Energy Laboratories, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA), the J. Craig Venter Institute, and many colleagues at other universities.

 

 
 
 
 

Study of modern processes in real time,
such as seen here in the San Pedro basin,
reveals clues to ancient Earth processes.