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Dr. Mike Callahan
Principal Investigator
Postdoc, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NPP Fellow)
Ph.D. Physical/Analytical Chemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara
B.S. Chemistry, University of Rhode Island
Mike’s research interests include [1] the study of organic compounds in extraterrestrial materials, [2] prebiotic chemistry of nitrogen heterocycles, [3] analyses of ancient food and wine residues, [4] chemical characterization of algae utilized in food, energy, and water systems, and [5] developing analytical methods and techniques for the analysis of highly challenging samples.  When he’s not thinking about science, he’s either spending time with his family or trying to relive his glory days of playing flag football at UC Santa Barbara.     


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Dr. Karen Smith
Senior Research Scientist
Postdoc, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NPP Fellow)
Ph.D. Geosciences and Biogeochemistry, The Pennsylvania State University
B.S. Chemistry, Arizona State University
Karen's research interests include the synthesis and evolution of organic compounds in extraterrestrial materials and how these compounds may have participated in prebiotic chemistry, particularly the origin of genetic material and ancient coenzymes.  She also has an interest in general analytical chemistry, food chemistry, and archaeometry.


  Photo credit: Patrick Sweeney, BSU

Photo credit: Patrick Sweeney, BSU

Melissa Roberts
Master's Student, starting Fall 2017
B.S. Chemistry with Secondary Education Emphasis, Boise State University, 2017
Associate of Science, New Mexico State University
Melissa first joined the research group in Fall 2015 as an undergraduate student.  She helped to elucidate chemical reaction pathways for nitrogen heterocycle adducts synthesized in plausibly prebiotic complex mixtures in collaboration with Prof. Chris House (Department of Geosciences, Penn State University).   As a master’s student, Melissa’s research involves the analysis of soluble organic compounds in meteorites by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. 

 


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Patrick Schwartz
Master's Student, joined group in Fall 2017
B.S. Chemistry, Boise State University, 2017
Patrick’s research involves the analysis of soluble organic compounds in meteorites (particularly CM chondrites) by ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry and developing a novel method to estimate the organic composition at a highly detailed, molecular-level for asteroid small bodies.


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Tucker Melles
Master's Student, joined group in Fall 2018
B.S. Astrobiology, Florida Institute of Technology, 2018
Tucker’s research involves elucidating prebiotically plausible pathways to peptide nucleic acid (PNA) monomers and oligomers.

 


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Kim Farrar
B.S. Chemistry Student, joined group in Fall 2018
HERC fellow, Fall 2018
Kim’s research involves developing new HPLC analytical methods to analyze wine residues in archaeological vessels.  This research is part of a long-term collaboration with Dr. Pat McGovern (University of Pennsylvania Museum).


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Crystal Lundgren
B.S. Chemistry Student, joined group in Fall 2018
Crystal's research explores how organic composition changes with hydrothermal alteration in meteorite analogs.  She is also assisting on a research project preparing ammonium cyanide polymers for N-heterocycle characterization.


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Rebekah (Bekah) Rozowski
B.S. Chemistry Student, joined group in Fall 2018
Bekah's research involves the preparation and analyses of laboratory reactions to help explain the complex organic composition measured in carbonaceous chondrites.


Former Group Members


  Photo credit: Allison Corona, BSU

Photo credit: Allison Corona, BSU

Phillip Hammer
M.S. Chemistry, Boise State University, 2017
NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow 2016-2017
B.S. Chemistry, Boise State University
Phillip's research investigated thermal and radiation processing of organic material, particularly nucleobases and nitrogen heterocycles, and how it related to meteorite parent body chemistry.  This research also involved collaborations with Dr. Jim Cleaves (Tokyo Institute of Technology) and Dr. Aaron Burton (NASA Johnson Space Center). Group member from Fall 2015-Summer 2017


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Hanna Meinikheim
B.S. Chemistry with Forensic Emphasis, Boise State University
Hanna's research involved advanced data analysis of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry data acquired from residues preserved in potsherds from Askut, an ancient Egyptian island fortress on the Nile.  One of the primary science goals of this research was to see if we could differentiate between foods cooked in Egyptian vs. Nubian pots and whether cuisine changed as control of this island fortress changed hands between the Egyptians and Nubians.  This research was in collaboration with Prof. Stuart Tyson Smith (University of California Santa Barbara).  Group member from Spring 2016 - Summer 2017.


  Photo credit: Allison Corona, BSU

Photo credit: Allison Corona, BSU

Alison Good
B.S. Chemistry with ACS Biochemistry Emphasis, Boise State University, 2016
Alison's research investigated the lipid and fatty acid composition of naturally occurring and assembled algae polycultures that were grown in dairy wastewater.  Understanding the fatty acid composition was important for assessing their potential as biofuels in addition to establishing a comprehensive compositional analysis of these algae communities.  This research was in collaboration with Prof. Kevin Feris (Department of Biological Sciences, Boise State University).  Group member from Fall 2015 - Spring 2017.


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Thomas Garrett
B.S. Chemistry with Professional Emphasis, Boise State University, 2017
Thomas's research explored the reaction conditions involving the spontaneous oligomerization of hydroxymethylated nucleobases in water.  This research also involved a collaboration with Prof. Gerrick Lindberg (Northern Arizona University) to examine the thermodynamic and dynamic properties of hydroxymethylated nucleobases and their oligomers using molecular dynamics simulations.  Group member from Fall 2016 - Spring 2017.


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Areli Castro
B.S. Chemistry, Boise State University, 2018
Areli's research involved developing new analytical methods to analyze ancient residues (particularly wine residues) in archaeological vessels.  This research was part of a long-term collaboration with Dr. Pat McGovern (University of Pennsylvania Museum).  Group member from Fall 2017 - Spring 2018.  


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Hannah Davis
B.S. Chemistry, Boise State University, 2018
Hannah's research involved advanced data analysis of high resolution mass spectrometry data acquired from carbonaceous chondrites, a type of meteorite, and investigated how the degree of pre-terrestrial aqueous alteration influenced the complex organic composition.  Group member from Fall 2017 - Spring 2018.