BASALT Research Objectives
To understand the creation and preservation of organic biomarkers associated with microbial communities inhabiting terrestrial volcanic terrains. In particular, to investigate: 1) the hypothesized relationship between geochemical and mineralogical properties of the basalts and associated microbial communities; 2) the minimum detection limit for organic biomass markers in volcanic materials; 3) how aqueous alteration events affect the potential for preservation and detection of organic (lipid) biomarkers.
Dr. Brady is an organic geochemist interested in using organic and isotopic biomarkers to characterize microbial communities living in extreme environments. With over 10 years of field experience, she has conducted field work in remote, extreme environments including geothermal hot springs, alkaline lakes, a perennially ice-covered lake in the Antarctic, and has piloted submersibles in an underwater analogue environment. Her field experience has also included programs such as the 2011 (N15) NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program in Florida, and the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) analogue field test in Hawaii (a joint NASA-CSA program). She was an active participant in the Pavilion Lake Research Project from 2006-2015, an international, inter-disciplinary project studying modern microbialites as analogue of early Earth systems, and was Science Lead from 2011 onward. Her previous research has focused on using lipid biomarkers and natural abundance isotopic analysis (13C and 14C) to investigate microbial diversity, and to identify carbon sources and cycling in extremophile ecosystems.