I am a researcher working at the interface of geology, biology and chemistry. I study the lipid "fingerprints" of archaea and bacteria that are ubiquitous in the environment and control the cycling of elements (such as carbon and nitrogen) on our planet. My research focuses on reconciling microbiological lab experiments with geochemical observations from the environment in order to enhance the application of lipids for tracing the roles of microorganisms in the modern ocean and the geologic past.
In my PhD thesis I studied how marine planktonic archaea adapt to environmental stress (e.g. temperature, salinity, nutrient supply) by altering the lipid composition of their cellular membrane. This new understanding of the complex roles of archaeal lipid membranes enables geologists to more accurately reconstruct ancient environments through fossil lipids (e.g. through the TEX86 paleotemperature proxy).