At Harvard University, I expanded my knowledge of paleobiology as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Andy Knoll‘s group. I continued my research into the nature of early eukaryotes by learning new FE-SEM and TEM methods to characterize the wall structure of a variety of Proterozoic microfossils using instrumentation at the Center for Nanoscale Systems. I also worked with Ken Williford at JPL to attempt the first measurements of taxon-specific stable isotope values for early Mesoproterozoic fossils via nanogram-scale combustion. Taken together, these different datasets may one day enable us to characterize the metabolic strategy (and, hopefully, the taxonomic affinity) of these different taxa.
On the prebiotic side of things, I was also actively involved with Harvard’s Origins of Life Initiative, where I focused on exploring new geochemically driven pathways of organic and phosphorus compound synthesis. Most of this work involved radiolysis- the process of using alpha, beta or gamma radiation to break down reactant molecules and reform them into more complex products. Laboratory experiments relied upon the Cobalt 60 Gamma Radiation Facility at the Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.