I co-lead the Origins and Habitability Laboratory at JPL. Visit the lab's 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 which of my funded projects interests you and why. 


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



Current Lab Members

                                                          Nancy Carman

Nancy is a Geosciences PhD student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She works on determining the degree of diagenesis on Mars, specifically looking at if there are S-containing organic minerals from Vera Rubin Ridge and Glen Torridon, mainly focusing on Mn sulfides. She is simulating the growth of hydrothermal chimneys with conditions analogous to the Strytan hydrothermal field in Iceland, an analog to hydrothermal environments on early Mars.

                                                           Julia Chavez

Julia is working on her Master's in Environmental Engineering at CSU Los Angeles. She has a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Lewis & Clark College. She is simulating hydrothermal vents in the lab. In particular, she will study saponite precipitates: their use in carbon dioxide sequestration and their relevance to habitable environments on early Earth and early Mars.

                                                         Dennise Valadez

Dennise is currently pursuing her MS in Physics from CSU Los Angeles. She has a BS in Physics and Chicano/a studies from UCLA. Her research interests include the search for life outside of Earth as well as better understanding the origins of life here on Earth. She is working with the OHL on investigating chemical pathways in ocean world analog systems to resolve possible indicators of abiotic organic chemistry and habitability on Ceres and Enceladus.

                                                           Bonnie Teece

Bonnie is a JPL Postdoctoral Researcher working on the InVADER vent exploration project. Her research focuses on organic geochemistry in hydrothermal systems with applications to ocean worlds, Mars, and life detection.

                                                       Katherine Dzurilla

Katherine is a JPL Postdoctoral Researcher working on astrobiology on ocean worlds, including prebiotic chemistry and phosphorus chemistry under Enceladus conditions. 

                                                            Tess Marlin

Tess is a second year biology Ph.D. student at Caltech. She is working on experiments to simulate 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.

                                                          Jessica Weber

Jessica Weber earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from MIT and a B.S. in Chemistry from U of Chicago, and was a JPL Postdoctoral Researcher. Jessica is a JPL Research Scientist involved in various astrobiology research projects, including exploring how protein cofactors behave under early Earth conditions.

                                                          Matt Luna

Matt is a biochemistry undergraduate student at Citrus College. He is studying prebiotic chemistry in Mars relevant mineral systems, and is a student collaboratory with the Mars Science Laboratory team.

Former Members


Name Year Project Academic Programs Current position
Rachel Sheppard 2020 - 2022 Nitrate chemistry on Mars JPL Postdoctoral Researcher Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute
Billal Zayat 2022 Electrochemical CO2 reduction on Enceladus Ph.D. Chemistry, USC Electrochemical industry
Laura Rodriguez 2019 - 2022 Hydrothermal vent geochemistry JPL Postdoctoral Researcher Research Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute
Eduardo Martinez 2018 - 2022 Nitrate redox chemistry M.S. Civil Engineering, CSU-LA California Sea Grant Fellow
Erika Flores 2015 - 2022 Organic / phosphorus chemistry on early Earth M.S. Environmental Engineering, CSU-LA Environmental Science Lecturer, CSU-LA
Medha Prakash 2021 CO2 reduction on early Earth and Mars B.S. Environmental Science, U. of Virginia Undergraduate student
Sarah Lamm 2021 Raman / LIBS analysis of iron minerals M.S. Geology, Kansas State Ph.D. student, U. of Kansas
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