Mike Callahan has been an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Boise State University since September 2015. He was previously a civil servant research scientist in the Astrochemistry Laboratory (Code 691) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from 2010 to 2015. He specializes in analytical chemistry and has conducted research in fields of cosmochemistry, origin of life, and astrobiology for over a decade. His research interests include the synthesis and evolution of organics in extraterrestrial materials and how these organics in conjunction with terrestrial abiotic organics may have participated in prebiotic chemistry that led to the development of biopolymers (including alternatives) and metabolic pathways on early Earth. Additionally, Mike has always been drawn to interesting and challenging science questions that require analytical chemistry. He has conducted multiple investigations involving biomolecular archaeology. He has also begun a research collaboration involving algae research for sustainable solutions to food, energy, and water needs.
He earned his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Rhode Island in 2001. While at URI, he assisted multiple research projects to investigate the chemistry of thermal decomposition of highly energetic and explosive materials in the laboratory of Prof. James L. Smith and Prof. Jimmie C. Oxley. He completed his Ph.D. in 2008 under Prof. Mattanjah S. de Vries in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of California Santa Barbara where he investigated the excited state dynamics of plausibly prebiotic nitrogen heterocycles by means of combined gas phase laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. He was a NASA postdoctoral program fellow from 2008 to 2010 and conducted his postdoctoral research at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under Dr. Jason P. Dworkin and Dr. Daniel P. Glavin studying nucleobases and amino acids in carbonaceous meteorites.
He has published 38 peer-reviewed papers in journals including Science, PNAS, and Analytical Chemistry. He has also won numerous awards including the Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award in Science in 2011 and the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal in 2012 for his research contributions.