I co-lead the Origins and Habitability Laboratory at JPL. Visit our website for more details about our research, lab news, and facilities. 


Interested in an internship? I take several summer interns each year, but also prefer year-round interns who work part time while going to school. I typically fill my summer intern positions in the fall (October - November), and it is not unusual for people to contact me more than a year in advance. If interested, email me and tell me about your research interests and why you want to work with me in particular. 


Below are the OHL lab members currently working on projects that I supervise. 



Current Lab Members

                                                           Erika Flores

Erika is completing her Master's degree in Environmental Engineering at CSU Los Angeles, and has a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. She is working on prebiotic organic synthesis and phosphorus absorption in hydrothermal systems.

                                                           Sarah Lamm

Sarah is a Master’s student in Geology at Kansas State University, interested in laser spectroscopy, spatial geochemistry, and mineralogy. She is working with the OHL on deconvoluting the geochemical signatures of metastable minerals relevant for life in Mars and ocean floor environments using LIBS and Raman.

                                                       Laura Rodriguez

Laura Rodriguez earned her B.S. in Geochemistry at Rice University before obtaining her Ph.D. in Geosciences and Astrobiology at Penn State. Laura is a JPL Postdoctoral Researcher working on hydrothermal vent geochemistry, phosphorus chemistry in planetary systems, and is part of the INVADER vent exploration project.

                                                            Tess Marlin

Tess is a second year biology Ph.D. student at Caltech. She studies the origin of metabolism, particularly reactions of simple organic molecules with minerals in ocean world analog environments, and is interested in possible metabolisms that might exist on ocean worlds.

                                                         Medha Prakash

Medha is pursuing a BS in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. She is working with the OHL and Prof. Yuk Yung (Caltech) on carbon reduction reactions in planetary environments, relating to understanding methane on Mars and prebiotic chemistry in early Earth settings.

                                                          Jessica Weber

Jessica Weber earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from MIT and a B.S. in Chemistry from U of Chicago. Jessica is a JPL Postdoctoral Researcher exploring how protein cofactors behave under early Earth conditions.

                                                        Eduardo Martinez

Eduardo is a Master’s student in Civil Engineering at Cal State LA. He is working with us on making simulated hydrothermal vent chimneys in the lab, and studying nitrate and phosphate adsorption on iron hydroxides.

                                                        Rachel Sheppard

Rachel completed her BA in Earth Science at Columbia University studying organic molecules in fault rocks and completed her PhD in Earth & Planetary Science at Brown University studying how water-bearing minerals record aqueous conditions on Earth and Mars. She is a postdoc working on redox gradients in the martian subsurface, and is a member of the MSL science team.

Former Members


Name Year Project Academic Programs Current position
Jonathan Major 2017 - 2020 Phosphorus chemistry  M.S., Geoscience, University of Tulsa Ph.D. student, U. of South Florida
Michelle Hooks 2017 - 2019 Chemical gardens Education and Biology - USC NASA Johnson Space Center
Ninos Hermis 2017 - 2020 Electrochemistry / hydrothermal chimneys M.S., Physics and Geology - CSU-LA Ph.D. student, LMU-Munich
Hiroki Nishumura 2018 Organic / phosphorus adsorption on iron minerals Marine Science - Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology Graduate Student
Jason Pagano 2018-2019 Chemical gardens Professor, Saginaw Valley State U. - sabbatical visitor at JPL Associate Professor of Chemistry
Jemma Dickson 2019 Microbes in hydrothermal vent chimneys Chemistry and marine science - College of the Atlantic Undergraduate student
Thora Maltais 2017 Origin of metabolism JPL postdoc (Ph.D. Purdue - Chemistry) JPL Contamination Control Engineer
Sarah Crucilla 2019 Origin of metabolism Caltech - Geology  
Ryan Cameron 2016-2017 Carbon fixation  Tulsa Community College; CSU Northridge Landscape management
Yeghegis Abedian 2013-2017 Electrochemistry of chimneys; phosphorus chemistry UC San Diego - Nanoengineering Shire Pharmaceuticals
Arden Hammer 2016 summer Hydrothermal organics and minerals Oberlin College - Chemistry Undergraduate student at Oberlin
Timothy Lin 2015, 2013 summers Carbon fixation UC Riverside - Biology Medical student at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Arlette Valencia 2015 summer Metastable minerals, green rust Citrus College Undergraduate student at Oregon Institute of Technology, Electrical and Optical Engineering
Jessica Nunez 2014 summer

Hydrothermal chimneys

BMSIS Young Researcher

Citrus College Graduate of UC Berkeley, Mechanical Engineering
Nery Rafael 2012 fall -2013 Hydrothermal vent simulations CSU Long Beach - Biochemistry Quality Control Chemist, Grifols Biologicals Inc.
John Zeytounian 2012 Electrochemistry of iron sulfides University of Southern California, Molecular and Computational Biology  
Ivria Doloboff 2011-2015 Chemical gardens, phosphorus chemistry CSU Long Beach / Santa Monica College NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Research Technician
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© Laurie Barge