March 26, 2024

The entire ENIGMA team is delighted to announce that Jan Siess received his Ph.D. under the direction of ENIGMA CoI Prof. Vikas Nanda.  Thesis title: Protein Dynamics And Evolution: A Molecular journey From Prebiotic Peptides To Complex Systems Graduate Program in Quantitative Biomedicine.  We wish Jan all the best in his journey in science and life.

March 8, 2024

Mike Wong, a post-doctoral ENIGMA collaborator and astrobiologist/ planetary scientist at Carnegie Science, appeared on Science Friday.  Wong talks about what sci-fi films get wrong—and right—about alien planets. With the recent release of the film Dune 2, Wong discussed exoplanets, what Arrakis’ atmosphere is like, and the search for life in the universe. Listen to Science Friday here.  Read Transcript here.

January 16, 2024

ENGIMA welcomes new team member, James Reilly, a Rutgers Graduate Student in Quantitative Biomedicine who will be working with Dr. Paul Falkowski and Dr. Vikas Nanda.  As part of the ENIGMA project, he is currently studying the role ancient metallopeptides played in the evolution of life, using molecular modelling software to design primordial proteins and characterize their structure, metal binding and catalytic activit.

January 9, 2024

ENIGMA PI and Leader Paul G. Falkowski presented the keynote at the Joint Symposium of the Earth-Life Science Institute and CO world Project which took place 9-12 January 2024, in Tokyo, Japan. The symposium focused on the emergence and detection of life.  Falkowski presented “The origins of metabolism; the power supply for life”.  ENIGMA Collaborators Donato Giovannelli, University of Naples, and Shaunna Morrison, Carnegie Institution for Science, also participated with talks on “Trace metals availability and the Evolution of biogeochemistry” and  “New frontiers in mineralogy: Data-driven exploration of Earth and planetary systems and their coevolution with life”  respectively.

December 11, 2023

Mission to the moon: Rutgers geologist helps NASA plot future Artemis moonwalks

The email that changed professor Juliane Gross’s life hit her inbox at Rutgers University over the summer with the simple subject line: “Guys, we got it!” Read the complete article at

December 4, 2023

Elizabeth Rampe, Scientist, Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science (ARES), NASA, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely.

Environments on Early Mars from the Curiosity Rover and Terrestrial Analogue Studies

November 20, 2023

Kristin N. Johnson-Finn, Assistant Professor, Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely.

Electrochemical Insights on Hydrothermal Organic Chemistry – Next Steps in Electron-Transfer Reactions of Carboxylic Acids

November 6, 2023

Jihua Hao, Senior Research Scientist, Geochemistry & Environmental Science, University of Science & Technology of China, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Light to Life”: Important Roles of Photogeochemistry in Regulating the Availability of Nutrients on the Early Earth.

October 23, 2023

Prabakaran Ramakrishnan, Postdoctoral Researcher, Biology & Computer Science, Emory University presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely from Georgia.

Learning the Language of Metagenomes to understand Molecular Function

October 10, 2023

Lauren Porter, Stadtman Investigator, NIH, National Library of Medicine, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on Exploring Unknown Regions of Protein Fold Space.

October 7, 2023

The Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) presented ENIGMA collaborator Shaunna Morrison, a planetary scientist and mineralogist at Carnegie Institute of Science’s Earth and Planets Laboratory (EPL), with the 2022 MSA Award at the Geological Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh.  Learn more about Morrison’s outstanding contributions to the science of mineralogy at her research webpage. Congratulations Shaunna! 

September 27, 2023

Juliane Gross, a Rutgers professor and ENIGMA Co-Investigator, will serve as a member of the geology team supporting the Artemis III mission, which will land the first woman on the Moon and explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. Read the complete article at Rutgers News.

September 25, 2023

Researchers hope to analyse materials from Mars using program that can detect ‘biosignatures’ of other life forms.

Gullies in Noachis Terra, Mars. Researchers hope to test samples from the red planet 
collected by Nasa. Photograph: StockTrek/Alamy

Dr Robert Hazen, ENIGMA CoI and an astrobiologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC and a senior scientist on the project, said the tool had the potential to revolutionise the search for extraterrestrial life and deepen the understanding of the origins and chemistry of life on Earth. Read the complete article at The Guardian.

May 19, 2023

Rutgers ENIGMA team members participated in PCE3 Seminar Series: Jennifer Timm, Postdoctoral Researcher, Environmental and Biological Sciences, and Jan Siess, Graduate Student, Center for the Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine presented their talks. Read more at #23 PCE3 Seminar Series Flyer 23

May 11, 2023

On May 11th,  a joint ENIGMA, DMCS and EPS field trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City was enjoyed by our students, faculty, and staff.  The group was treated to a special guided tour of the Hall of Minerals by George Harlow (Curator, Division of Physical Sciences, AMNH) and a viewing of the Hayden Planetarium show World Beyond Earth

April 3, 2023

Costantino Vetriani, Professor, Biochemistry & Microbiology, Rutgers University, presented an ENIGMA Seminar in-person.

The Chemosynthetic Microbiome of Deep-sea Hydrothermal Vents across Time and Space

March 20, 2023

Brian J. Stockman, Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, Adelphi University, presented an ENIGMA Seminar in-person/remotely on Deep Learning Approaches for Exploring the Origin of Oxidoreductases

March 10, 2023

Rutgers Scientists Identify Substance that may have Sparked Life on Earth

Caption: A computer rendering of the Nickelback peptide shows the backbone nitrogen atoms (blue) that bond two critical nickel atoms (orange). Scientists who have identified this part of a protein believe it may provide clues to detecting planets on the verge of producing life.

The research, published in Science Advances, has important implications in the search for extraterrestrial life because it gives researchers a new clue to look for, said Vikas Nanda, an ENIGMA team CoI and researcher at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM) at Rutgers. Read the complete article at AAAS/EurekAlert.

March 6, 2023

Shina Caroline Lynn Kamerlin, Professor, School of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on Harnessing Conformational Dynamics and Computational Design to Generate Novel Enzymes.

February 15, 2023

Michael Manhart, Assistant Professor, Center for Advanced Biotechnology & Medicine, Rutgers Universitypresented an ENIGMA Seminar in-person/remotely on Evolution of Nutrient Colimitation in Microbial Communities.

February 13, 2023

Unlocking the Secrets of Life through Data Science

Mike Wong (left) and Anirudh Prabhu (right) pose for a photo together

Anirudh Prabhu and Mike Wong use data science to explore the definition of life as we know it (and life as we don’t).  Read the complete article at Carnegie Science.

February 6, 2023

Jan Siess, Graduate Fellow,  Quantitative Biomedicine, Rutgers University, presented an ENIGMA Seminar in-person/remotely.

Utilizing Dynamical Attributes to Parse Ferredoxin Structural Domains

January 31, 2023

Did the Seeds of Life Ride to Earth Inside an Asteroid?
Yana Bromberg explores whether biological amino acids could have celestial or terrestrial roots. Enjoy this excellent and comprehensive article on current research and thoughts on whether life started on Earth or in space.
“Yana Bromberg, a bioinformatician at Rutgers University, thinks the secret to life will be found in Earth-based biological records, rather than geological ones. “Rocks have a tendency to get ground up and cycled,” she says. “It’s hard to trace history this way.” Instead, Bromberg looks for the genetic blueprints for making cellular energy, a process that could have been invented by—and inherited from—ancient proteins created from Earth’s initial ooze. Last year, she published work showing similarities in the cores of modern proteins used by different organisms, hinting that they may trace back to the same ancestry.” Read the complete article on WIRED.

January 27, 2023

Shaunna Morrison Named 2022 Recipient of MSA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mineralogy

Congratulations!  The Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) has named Carnegie’s Earth and Planets Laboratory (EPL) mineralogist and ENIGMA collaborator Shaunna Morrison as the 2022 recipient of the MSA Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the science of mineralogy by early career researchers.

Morrison, a planetary scientist and mineralogist, is known for her work in crystallography, crystal chemistry, and the innovative application of data-driven techniques to better understand planetary histories and the co-evolution of the mineral environment with life on Earth. She is also a Co-Director of Carnegie’s 4D Initiative, a former Project Manager of the Carnegie-led Deep-Time Data Infrastructure (DTDI), and a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover mission, among other roles. Morrison will be honored at the Geological Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, in October 2023.

January 14, 2023

Michael Chen, PhD Graduate Program in Oceanography, and Jennifer Timm, Postdoc associate Rutgers University ENIGMA, discuss planetary science and astrobiology while creating a model solar system with small objects with a Fairfield library youth.

December 28, 2022

Shaunna Morrison receives the 2022 Minerals Young Investigator Award.


Carnegie Research Scientist and ENIGMA team collaborator Shaunna Morrison received the 2022 Minerals Young Investigator Award for her work in crystallography, crystal chemistry, and the innovative application of data-driven techniques to better understand planetary histories, including the co-evolution of the mineral environment with life here on Earth. Read the complete article at  Carnegie Science and Minerals

December 12, 2022

Michael Hecht, Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University presented the last ENIGMA Seminar of the term remotely. Michael is a leader in protein science and we were honored for his participation.
Sustaining Life with Genes and Proteins Designed De Novo

December 6, 2022

As part of the ENIGMA program E&O team, a collaboration with Rutgers 4-H Youth Development provides STEM programs at libraries throughout New Jersey taught by faculty, graduate students, and educational professionals. We are continuing this program through June 2023, expecting to reach an additional 1220 libraries.

Youth create extremophile creatures they designed at a “Life on Other Planets” program at the Edgewater Public Library. Could their creatures survive on another planet?

Young people at the Paulsboro Public Library in South Jersey learn about Astrobiology with hands on activities through Rutgers’ DMCS and ENIGMA Library Outreach program. Pictured are youth showcasing an extremophile creature they invented, designed and created based on certain life characteristics that only thrive on a certain planet. After using various craft supplies and household materials to create their creatures, the youth then presented their creatures to their peers explaining what planet their creature may live on and how their creature could survive extreme environments based on specific life conditions.

November 28, 2022

Wolfgang Nitschke, Director of Research, Bioenergetics & Protein Engineering at CNRS – The French National Centre for Scientific Research presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely from France.  We were honored to learn from him.

Life as we don’t know it” at the very beginning?
(bioenergetics’ take on emergence-of-life-research)

November 14, 2022

James Eguchi, Post-doctoral Researcher in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers presented an ENIGMA seminar in-person. The ENIGMA team was delighted to welcomed James to Rutgers.

Reinterpreting the Sedimentary Carbon and Sulfur Isotope Records in Light of Links between Earth’s Surface and Iinterior Carbon and Sulfur Cycles

November 7, 2022

Anhuai Lu, Professor, School of Earth & Space Sciences, at Peking University presented a Special ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Mineral Photoelectron Energy for Prebiotic Synthesis and Microbial Metabolism” .  Dr. Lu is a renown scientist in mineralogy and geology and the ENIGMA team was extremely honored for his participation.

Mineral Photoelectron Energy for Prebiotic Synthesis and Microbial Metabolism

October 18, 2022

ENIGMA post-doctoral researcher Michael Wong was a guest on the NASA Ask An Astrobiologist series  –  “Defining Life, Biosignatures, & the Science of Star Trek with Dr. Michael Wong”. Listen to Episode 53 here.

August 5, 2022

National Academy of Sciences profiled Professor Paul Falkowski in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) “Profile of Paul G. Falkowski”.  Read the complete article in PNAS and on Rutgers SEBS/NJAES Newsroom.

August 4, 2022

NASA-Rutgers ENIGMA Program Hosts Hybrid 2022 Annual Symposium.  Read the complete article at Rutgers SEBS and NJAES Newsroom

August 3, 2022

ENIGMA collaborator Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science, also participated with his class topic on “Roles of minerals in life’s origins” and former post-doctoral ENIGMA team member Jihua Hao, now senior research scientist at USTC, presented on “Early Earth geochemistry.”

July 29, 2022

ENGIMA welcomes new team member, Jyotirmoy Mondal, a Rutgers Postdoctoral Researcher who will be using molecular modelling software to design primordial proteins, express, purify and reconstitute them, and characterize their structure, metal binding and catalytic activity as part of the ENIGMA project.

July 20, 2022

Sorting Minerals Differently Could Usher a New Era for Mineralogy

Grouping minerals by how they were formed yields insights into our planet’s evolution across billions of years.

Credit: photo/Rob Lavinsky specimen

Before Earth existed, there were minerals. Some stood witness as the solar nebula stashed stardust and meteorites coalesced to form our rocky abode. But the centuries-old system for classifying minerals focuses on what they are—missing the stories rocks can tell because of how they formed. Now, researchers have developed a new way to sort minerals—by their origins—and they’ve used this methodology to explore how Earth’s minerals diversified across deep time. Read the complete article at EOS.

July 12, 2022

July 11, 2022

Nathan Yee presented at the  2022 Goldschmidt Conference  on “Anoxic photochemical weathering of pyrite on Archean continents” in Honolulu, Hawaii.

July 1, 2022

ENIGMA Scientists Decipher and Catalog the Diverse Origins of Minerals  

 In twin papers published by American Mineralogist, Carnegie Institution for Science scientists and ENIGMA collaborators, Robert Hazen and Shaunna Morrison detail a novel approach to clustering (lumping) kindred species of minerals together or splitting off new species based on when and how they originated. 

The papers detail the origins and diversity of every known mineral on Earth, a landmark body of work that will help reconstruct the history of life on Earth, guide the search for new minerals and ore deposits, predict possible characteristics of future life, and aid the search for habitable planets and extraterrestrial life. 

The goal of their efforts: “To understand how the diversity and distribution of minerals have changed through deep time and to propose a system of mineral classification … that reflects mineral origins in the context of evolving terrestrial worlds.” 

“This work fundamentally changes our view of the diversity of minerals on the planet,” says Dr. Hazen. 

  • Hazen, R. M., & Morrison, S. M. (2022). On the paragenetic modes of minerals: A mineral evolution perspective. American Mineralogist, 107(7), 1262-1287. DOI: 10.2138/am-2022-8099
  • Hazen, R. M., Morrison, S. M., Krivovichev, S. V., & Downs, R. T. (2022). Lumping and splitting: Toward a classification of mineral natural kinds. American Mineralogist, 107(7), 1288-1301. DOI: 10.2138/am-2022-8105

June 14, 2022

ENGIMA welcomes new team member, Prabakaran Ramakrishnan, a Rutgers Postdoctoral Researcher who will be working on developing deep-learning tools to profile metagenomes as part of the ENIGMA project. Prabakaran is curious about the evolution of protein as a “nanomachine” and the unseen world of host-microbe communications. 

June 9, 2022

ENIGMA collaborators Shaunna Morrison, Research Scientist, and Anirudh Prabhu, Geo-Informatics Scientist,  of the Earth and Planets Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science presented talks hosted by the PCE3 Seminar Series.

May 17, 2022

ENIGMA team leaders Shaunna Morrison and Nathan Yee chaired AbSciCon session on: Co-Evolution of the Geosphere and Biosphere: The Environmental, Mineralogical and Geochemical Context for Life’s Origins and Earliest Evolution

May 10-11, 2022

The Rutgers-NASA ENIGMA program held its 5th annual symposium, hosted at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM) and on Zoom, for a two-day hybrid event, May 10-11th. Both in-person and virtual presentations by distinguished speakers and ENIGMA research members informed astrobiological research that aims to help us to better understand the origins and evolution of life.

Many thanks to those that travelled from afar to be with us – our speakers, ENIGMA team of co-investigators, collaborators, post-docs, graduate students, staff, and undergraduates for a great two-day event.. Program pamphlet can be found here.

Our multi-themed integrated science presentations and discussions were recorded and can be found on the ENIGMA YouTube Channel here.

April 19, 2022

In the Falkowski Lab, Fehon is observing a dense culture of phytoplankton grown for his experiments.

Delighted to announce that our very own Nolan Fehon has been awarded this year’s undergraduate Cook Community Leadership Award. During his time at Rutgers Nolan has made sustainability, climate change and environmental activism his passion and his mission.  Nolan also regularly wrote a Climate column for the Daily Targum to share his experiences with Rutgers students and inspire others to pick up the mantle. Read more at SEBS Newsroom.

March 4, 2022

NASA Studies ‘New’ 50-Year-Old Lunar Sample to Prep for Return to Moon

NASA thinks 50 years is the right amount of time as it begins tapping into one of the last unopened, Apollo-era lunar samples to learn more about the Moon and prepare for a return to its surface.

ENIGMA Collaborator Professor Juliane Gross shares news from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES) as she helps NASA open Apollo 17 core samples.   Read the complete article at NASA’s featured news webpage.

February 21, 2022

Nathan Yee presented on ” Geomicrobiology of Assimilatory Sulfate Reduction” at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

February 7, 2022

Post-doc Jennifer Timm presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Small Peptide Catalysts and How to Find Them.”

January 25, 2022

ENIGMA research scientist Bob Hazen of Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science has a podcast on the Evolution of Minerals. Listen to the podcast at Geology Bites here.

(Note – playing the podcast is not supported on Internet Explorer; please use any other browser, or listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.) Geology Bites Transcript here.

January 24, 2022

Post-doc Kenneth McGuinness presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Evaluating Mineral Lattices as Evolutionary Proxies for Metalloprotein Evolution.”

January 14, 2022

New Study Sheds Light on Origins of Life on Earth

Addressing one of the most profoundly unanswered questions in biology, a Rutgers-led team has discovered the structures of proteins that may be responsible for the origins of life in the primordial soup of ancient Earth.

The study appears in the journal Science Advances

The researchers explored how primitive life may have originated on our planet from simple, non-living materials. They asked what properties define life as we know it and concluded that anything alive would have needed to collect and use energy, from sources such as the Sun or hydrothermal vents.

In molecular terms, this would mean that the ability to shuffle electrons was paramount to life. Since the best elements for electron transfer are metals (think standard electrical wires) and most biological activities are carried out by proteins, the researchers decided to explore the combination of the two — that is, proteins that bind metals. Read more at Rutgers Today.

December 13, 2021

ENGIMA welcomes new team member, Michael L. Wong,  a Carnegie Institution for Science’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Earth & Planets Laboratory who will be working on planetary atmospheres, habitability, biosignatures, and the emergence of life research.

December 2, 2021


Several ENIGMA collaborators participated in the 2021 Società Geologica Italiana webinar series on geobiology and their talks are on the society’s YouTube.

Donato Giovannelli on “Subsurface life can impact volatile cycling in subduction zones”

Bob Hazen on “The co-evolution of life and rocks: Visualizing 4.5 billion years of Earth history”

Paul Falkowski on “Origins of Oxidoreductases”

November 22, 2021

Katherine Bermingham, Rutgers Earth & Planetary Sciences, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “The Building Blocks of the Solar System and Earth.”

November 16, 2021

ENIGMA Co-Investigator and Carnegie mineralogist Robert Hazen—who advanced the concept that Earth’s geology was shaped by the rise and sustenance of life—was elected last month as a fellow of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life – The International Astrobiology Society.

It is the only professional society dedicated to origins research and its 500 members represent disciplines ranging from molecular biology to astronomy. Fellows are selected for their “exceptional and sustained contributions” to the field.

Hazen pioneered the concept of mineral evolution—linking an explosion in mineral diversity to the rise of life on Earth—and developed the idea of mineral ecology—which analyzes the spatial distribution of the planet’s minerals to predict those that remain undiscovered and to assert Earth’s mineralogical distinctiveness in the cosmos.  Read more at the Carnegie Science website.

Novemeber 15, 2021

Geo-informatics Scientist, Anirudh Prabhu, ENIGMA collaborator from the Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Pushing the Boundaries with (and of)…Data Science.”

November 8, 2021

Post-doc Saroj Poudel presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Deep Time Evolutionary Inference using both Sequence and Structural Information of the Protein.”

October 15, 2021

Check out NASA Astrobiology Graphic Histories. A new Japanese translation of issue #7 of the graphic novel series Astrobiology, created and illustrated by Dr. Aaron Gronstal.  You can download all the issues of the Astrobiology Graphic History series, as well as the Astrobiology Coloring Pages.

October 6, 2021

Juliane Gross, ENIGMA collaborator from Rutgers Earth & Planetary Sciences, presented a Rutgers EPS Colloquium on “From Apollo to Artemis and Beyond: A future as bright as the Moon.”

September 27, 2021

Post-doc Adrienne Hoarfrost will be starting a new adventure as she is leaving Rutgers to join the NASA Biological and Physical Sciences division at NASA Ames.

September 20, 2021

ENIGMA team member and NASA Postdoctoral Program Adrienne Hoarfrost presented an ENIGMA Seminar virtually on “Empowering AI-Driven Insights into Biological Complexity – for life on Earth, in space, and in our search for life on other planets”.

September 15, 2021

Paul Falkowski presented a Rutgers Mathematical Physics lecture on “Light to Life on Earth”. Abstract: The origin of life is the black hole of biology. All life on Earth is driven by the conversion of photons to chemical bond energy. Amazingly, we don’t understand that process.  In this lecture, I will examine the bio/geophysics of oxygenic photosynthesis Earth,  and how it came to be the force of life for all of us animals.

September 13, 2021

ENIGMA collaborator Kevin Hand  talked about what life might look like in space. Check out the NAS program Science & Entertainment Exchange  #AskAScientist series.

September 3, 2021

Recent Ph.D. Ashley Murphy, is departing the ENIGMA team for new adventures as a post-doctoral research scientist under the advisement of Dr. R. Aileen Yingst at the Planetary Science Institute, where she is a member of the Mars 2020 SHERLOC instrument team.

September 1, 2021

ENGIMA welcomes new team members:

Anirudh Prabhu, Ph.D. joins us as a Geo-informatics Scientist in the Earth and Planets Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science to work in data science and x-informatics.

Jan Siess joins us a graduate student in Rutgers Quantitative Biomedicine program working in the lab of Dr. Vikas Nanda. He is interested in the design and evolution of metalloproteins.

August 20, 2021

Congratulating to Ashley Murphy on the successful defense of her Ph.D. dissertation on “Characterization of Stromatolitic Biosignatures After Secondary Dolomitization”!

August 5-6, 2021

ENIGMA team member and NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Saroj Poudel presented virtually “De Novo Design of a Minimal Catalytic Di-Nickel Peptide Capable of Sustained Hydrogen Evolution” at Astrobiology and Life Research.  Congratulations to Saroj for winning the Best Presentation Award!

July 20, 2021

Bob Hazen gave a plenary lecture for the Earth Science Information Partners Winter 2021 virtual meeting titled “Mineral Informatics: Analysis, Visualization, and the Legacy of Peter Fox” crediting ENIGMA.

July 16, 2021

Orion Farr is currently in France at the Aix-Marseille University for his Ph.D., where he is investigating the comparative redox chemistry of catalytic minerals and primitive enzymes to reveal the mysterious origins of metabolism.

July 15, 2021

Hannah Rutledge, ENIGMA graduate student from UCSD, presented “On the Brink of Stability: Redox Dependent Conformational Changes of the Nitrogenase P-Cluster”, hosted by NASA PCE3 group .  Find recording here (talk starts at 28:30).

July 4-9, 2021

ENIGMA team member and NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Saroj Poudel presented virtually “Nitrogenase Diversity through Time and Space” at the Goldschmidt Conference 2021.

July 4-9, 2021

Post-doc Jennifer Timm presented virtually “Reconstructing a Potential Primordial Hydrogenase” at the Goldschmidt Conference 2021. Find recording here.

July 2, 2021

Academic Influence met with Bob Hazen to discuss the possibility of life on Mars, the origins of life, and much more. Enjoy!
What minerals can tell us about aliens | Interview with Dr. Robert Hazen
Hear more from Bob Hazen as he discusses the possibility of life beyond earth, his career as a mineralogist, and much more.
How rocks and aliens become a career | Interview with Dr. Robert Hazen

June 16, 2021

Delighted to share that Douglas H. Pike successfully defended his Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology. Title: Computational Sequence and Structure Design of Cofactor Binding Proteins.  Congratulations!

June 8-9, 2021

Rutgers 4th Annual ENIGMA Astrobiology Symposium took place virtually on June 8th and 9th with international participation amongst our team of scientists and invited external speakers. Thank you to our distinguished speakers, ENIGMA team of co-investigators, collaborators, post-docs, graduate students, staff, and undergraduates for a great two-day event.  Program pamphlet can be found here.

Our multi-themed integrated science presentations and discussions were recorded and can be found on the ENIGMA YouTube Channel here.  

May 28, 2021

ENIGMA is proud to announce that Robert Hazen was honored for lifetime achievement in mineralogy.

Hazen was named the 2021 winner of the International Mineralogical Association‘s Medal of Excellence, which is the highest international award in the field. The medal will be presented at a ceremony in Lyon, France in the summer of 2022. Read more at Carnegie Science News.

May 26, 2021

Ignacio Sanchez of the Universidad de Buenos Aires presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Are there Biophysical, Physiological, and Coding Constraints to Genome and Proteome Stoichiometries?”

May 26, 2021

Bob Hazen aired this spring on Mineral Talks LIVE, Episode 49. Enjoy this weekly LIVE webinar that brings in-depth and in-person interviews with mineral people from around the world!

May 19, 2021

Our Outreach team of Janice McDonnell and Alesha Vega developed and administered a Professional Development Workshop for K12 teachers on integrating Astrobiology in the Classroom. ENIGMA CoPI Vikas Nanda and post-doc Corday Selden were featured.   Workshop was FREE and open to ALL K12 teachers nationwide. If you wish to learn more about possible future events contact STEM Community Engagement & Outreach Coordinator, Alesha Vega, at

May 14, 2021

Congratulations Juliana DiGiacomo – recipient of Henry Rutgers Scholar Award

Juliana’s thesis title:  “The Environment as a Driving Force in the Coevolution of Ferredoxin Termini”

Juliana’s work has been part of the ENIGMA interdisciplinary program focused on the synthesis and function of nanomachines in the origin of life. Her mentor was ENIGMA team post-doctoral researcher Dr. Saroj Poudel.

The Henry Rutgers Scholar Award recognizes graduating seniors who have completed outstanding independent research projects leading to an interdepartmental thesis or a thesis in their major field of study.  Every year, professors are invited to nominate students who have done exceptionally strong work in their discipline that highlights the originality of the research and conclusions along with exhibiting evidence of superior critical reasoning and scholarly achievement.

These awards are offered across all departments of the School of Arts and Sciences, and so represent only the very finest achievements of our students.

May 12, 2021

Post-doc Corday Selden presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “N2 Fixation i​​n the Modern Ocean:  Recent Insights” and “Stable Isotope Metallomics: Developing Tools to Explore Biological Metal use Through Time”.

May 3, 2021

Shaunna Morrison uses data science to unravel mineralogical mysteries.  In the following interview, Morrison talks about her scientific endeavors, gives advice to people looking to switch careers to science, and shares her favorite mineral. Read more at the Carnegie Science website.

April 28, 2021

Akif Tezcan of UCSD presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “On the Importance/Design of Metal Selectivity in Protein Scaffolds”

April 24, 2021

ENIGMA team member and NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Saroj Poudel presented virtually “Expansion of Positively Charged Cavities Enabled the Evolution of Substrate Specificity in Rubisco” at the 38th Eastern Regional Photosynthesis Conference.

April 22, 2021

On Earth Day 2021,  ENIGMA research scientist Bob Hazen of the Carnegie Institute of Sciences‘ was cited as a Top Influential Earth Scientists Today in recognition for his many contributions to understanding of how Earth works.  Read the complete article at Academic Influence.

April 14, 2021

Vikas Nanda presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “A Gap between Catalysis and Autocatalysis”.

April 8, 2021

ENIGMA is thrilled that team member Akif Tezcan was awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of chemistry.   The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding for Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 184 artists, writers, scholars, and scientists. (See the full list here.)

F. Akif Tezcan, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego: Polymer-Integrated Protein Crystals: A New Class of Functional Materials. Field: Chemistry

April 4, 2021

Congratulations to Orion Farr for the excellent presentation of his Master’s thesis in Earth & Planetary Science on “UV-recycling of phosphorus in the Archean Eon”.

March 31, 2021

Yana Bromberg presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Quantifying Structural Relationships of Metal Binding Sites Suggests Origins of Biological Electron Transfer”.

March 4, 2021

ENIGMA program organized a “One Day Bioinformatics Boot Camp” – a four-hour course to expand understanding of bioinformatics, integrating current knowledge from leaders in computational biology and computer science fields. Find agenda here and recording of Bioinformatics Boot Camp here.

March 3, 2021

Nathan Yee presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “A Sulfate Story: From Continental Weathering to Assimilation by Microbial Life”.

February 17, 2021

Lujendra Ojha, Rutgers Earth & Planetary Sciences, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Can an Early Hot Mars Resolve the Faint Young Sun Paradox?”.

January 27, 2021

Post-doc Bhanu Jagilinki organized a virtual symposium on “Metalloproteins at the Crossroads of Design and Nature”. Keynote speaker was Hannah Shafaat, Dept. Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ohio State University. Ph.D. and Post-docs researchers from across the country also presented their work. Find symposium program here.

January 20, 2021

Post-doc Bhanu Jagilinki presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on ”Recent Advances in the Designing of Helical Bundles with Metal Binding Centers”.

January 20, 2021

Post-doc Jihua Hao will be starting a new adventure in science in 2021 with a position at the University of Science and Technology of China.

January 4, 2021

Corday Selden Ph.D. has joined the Falkowski and Yee labs and will be focusing on Precambrian biogeochemistry and the conditions that facilitated the emergence of primordial enzymes.

December 7, 2020

Ron Koder of City College of New York presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Utilizing Disorder in Natural and Designed Proteins and Enzymes”.

December 4, 2020

Donato Giovannelli appears in Episode #2 of the new Netflix series “Alien Worlds“. He’s discussing the unique properties of water while filming in Iceland.

November 19, 2020

ENIGMA program organized a “One Day Geology Boot Camp” – a four-hour course to expand understanding of geological processes, integrating current knowledge from leaders across the astrobiology and geology fields.  Find agenda here and recording of Geology Boot Camp here.

November 19, 2020

Rutgers 4-H STEM Ambassador Team was a recipient of a 27th Excellence Award for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES).  Congratulations to Janice McDonnell,  Alesha Vega, and Christine Bean who are also leaders of our ENIGMA Education and Outreach team!

Read the complete article here.

November 9, 2020

Post-doc Jennifer Timm presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Reconstructing a Primordial Hydrogenase”.

October 26, 2020

Diego Ferreiro of the Universidad de Buenos Aires presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Structural Analysis of Ancient Metalloproteins: Finding Recurrent Repetitive Elements”.

October 21, 2020

FANFARE of Excitement for our NEW ENIGMA TOOLS of SCIENCE VIDEO!  Travel with us through Earth’s evolutionary timeline, on a mission to learn about the origin of life. Team up with @RutgersDMCS to figure out how proteins became the catalyst behind the evolution of life on Earth, and how that might set the table for discovering life on other planets. See new video HERE. Many thanks to all involved for the fabulous work!

October 20, 2020

Juliane Gross is featured in the 4-H STEM Career Series video. Juliane is currently the Deputy Curator of Apollo Moon Rocks at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas.

October 19, 2020

Post-doc Jennifer Timm presented a Rutgers Dept. of Marine and Coastal Sciences Seminar remotely on “Towards Reconstruction of a Primordial Hydrogenase”.

October 14, 2020

Paul Falkowski presented “The Origin and Emergence of Global Coupled Biogeochemical Cycles” as part of The International Forum on Advanced Environmental Sciences and Technology.

Video here.

October 13, 2020

Shaunna Morrison is featured in the  4-H STEM Career Series video.  Shaunna is team member on the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover mission! Watch the video to learn more about her career in STEM.

October 12, 2020

Post-doc Jihua Hao presented a Rutgers Dept. of Marine and Coastal Sciences Seminar remotely on “Cycling Phosphorus in Planetary Ocean Waters: Early Earth and Enceladus”.

October 12, 2020

Post-doc Aaron Martinez presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Multiproxy Records of the End-Devonian Hangenberg Crisis in the Appalachian Basin, USA”.

October 3, 2020

Shaunna Morrison was part of the development team and participated in the 2020 4-H STEM Challenge.

This year’s challenge — Mars Base Camp — marks the 13th annual event to date and explored human space exploration and humanity’s efforts to reach the Red Planet.  Test your knowledge of the Red Planet with this Mars Base Camp Trivia Challenge featuring celebrity guest host Bill Nye!

Watch WFXR News story here. article here.


October 1, 2020

As part of the National 4-H STEM Challenge, youth and families from across the country participated in an online Mars Base Camp Scientist Panel on October 1, 2020.  They met three world-renowned space scientists from Rutgers and the ENIGMA team, learned about their innovative research in astrobiology and had a chance to ask their questions.  Watch recording of Dr. Juliane Gross, Dr. Shaunna Morrison, and Dr. Lujendra Ojha.

September 28, 2020

Post-doc Kenneth McGuinness presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Toward Completing the Earth’s Electron Transport System”.

September 17, 2020

ENIGMA collaborator Kevin Peter Hand of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely “On the Nature of Europa’s Surface Chemistry and the Possibility of a Radiolytic Redox Cycling”.

September 17, 2020

The 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge is a Race to Land Humans on Mars this year!

The race to land humans on Mars is on! The annual 4-H STEM Challenge in connection with Rutgers looks a little different this year but the enthusiasm remains. The 2020 challenge will explore sending a mission to Mars with the activity, Mars Base Camp.

Rutgers University 4-H is hosting two online components to the STEM challenge this year. The Scientists Panel on Thursday, October 1st is where the public will have a chance to meet with world renowned Space Scientists behind innovative Mars research, NASA collaborators and the scientists who created the Mars Base Camp Challenge. Saturday, October 3rd is when youth, ages 8-14 years, will join an exciting opportunity to explore STEM through an expedition to Mars with the Mars Base Camp Challenge!

Several ENIGMA team members have worked tirelessly to support the program and will be participating in this multi-institution collaboration. Great work!

Read the complete article at SEBS & NJAES Newsroom.

September 1, 2020

NEW! Minor in Astrobiology

Rutgers is pleased to announce a Minor in Astrobiology for undergraduates.

Description: Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary scientific field of study that examines the origins and distribution of life in the universe. The Astrobiology minor is designed to educate students to cover the range of scientific disciplines that contribute to our general understanding of life, the origin of life, the past history of life on Earth, and the possible existence of life on other planets and moons. The principal goal of the minor is to develop student literacy in astrobiology so that they can critically evaluate claims related to this field reported in the news media and popular culture.

Learn more here about the Minor in Astrobiology.

For information about the minor, students should contact Dr. Nathan Yee, the Astrobiology faculty advisor, at or Dr. Roy Schlische, the EPS undergraduate program director, at

August 27, 2020

Post-doc Laura Haynes will be starting a new position as an Assistant Professor at Vassar College.

August 24, 2020

Kelsey Wolfe, a junior Biochemistry major, gained valuable research experience in the Center for Advanced Biotechnology Medicine (CABM) Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program hosted by Rutgers University.

Wolfe spent nine weeks working on a NASA Astrobiology Institute project, Evolution of Nanomachines in the Geosphere and Microbial Ancestors (ENIGMA). Its goal was to understand the structure and function of the first proteins that started life on Earth some 3.8 billion years ago.

Read the complete article at Fredonia State University website.

August 14, 2020

Post-doc Adrienne Hoarfrost, participated as a member of Frontier Development Lab Astronaut Health team, presenting at the Frontier Development Lab 2020 Space Science & Al Showcase on “Can Casual Inference ML solve the chicken or the egg problems of cancer research?”

Find recording here with talk by Astronaut Health team starting at 47:11.

July 29, 2020

Paul Falkowski presented “Enigma Breakthroughs: Results from the Field” as part of the Rutgers EPS Summer Science Series.

July 7, 2020

Post-doc Josh Mancini is departing the ENIGMA team for new adventures as a biochemist to help engineer plant proteins at Beyond Meat. 

July 3, 2020

Post-doc Joy Buongiorno will be starting a new position as Assistant Professor of Environmental Biology in the Fall at Maryville College, nestled against the majestic Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Joy will be developing the Division of Natural Sciences’ new environmental science major. 

June 30, 2020

Welcome to Renna Yi, a graduate student in Physics & Astronomy, who will be working with the Falkowski and Nanda Labs. She is interested in mathematical modeling of catalysis and autocatalysis, to better understand how such systems could have emerged from prebiotic chemistry. 

June 24, 2020

Lujendra Ojha presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Recent Missions to Mars”.

June 16-17, 2020

Rutgers 3rd Annual ENIGMA Astrobiology Symposium took place virtually on June 16th and 17th with international participation amongst our team of scientists and invited external speakers. Thank you to our ENIGMA team of co-investigators, collaborators, post-docs, graduate students, staff, undergraduates, and distinguished speakers for a great two-day event.  Agenda can be found here.

Our multi-themed integrated science presentations and discussions were recorded and can be found on the ENIGMA YouTube Channel here.

May 20, 2020

Liz Windham is joining ENIGMA as a graduate student in the lab of Joff Silberg, Rice University, in their Biochemistry and Cell Biology Ph.D. program. She will focus on synthetic biology – protein engineering as well as redox biology.

May 20, 2020

Reaching Out to the Next Generation of Astrobiologists”

Astrobiologists at Rutgers University share discoveries with local school children.

Posted by Aaron Gronstal

Read complete article at Astrobiology at NASA News.

May 18, 2020

Yossi Paltiel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Why Should Life Maintain Chirality”.

May 14, 2020

Juliane Gross presented “The Moon Rocks” as part of Rutgers Geology Museum “Ask a Geologist” Series. Find recording here

May 11, 2020

Our ENIGMA Education and Outreach team generated informal STEM learning activities for families while at home during COVID and beyond. The work features ENIGMA, and correlated the high-level Astrobiology research with activities students and families can easily execute at home.

Check out – Exploring Life on Other Planets! Part 1: What does it mean to be alive?

May 4, 2020

Post-doc Jihua Hao presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Chemical Composition of Enceladus Seawater and its Implications to Habitability”.

April 29, 2020

Nir Keren of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem presented a Rutgers Biochemistry and Microbiology Fermentation Webinar Seminar remotely on “Photosynthetic Life in Extreme Environments: How Desert Sand Crust Cyanobacteria Survive Hydration/Desiccation Cycles”.

April 27, 2020

SciTechNow, Public Media’s Nexus of New Ideas featured the work of our ENIGMA Education and Outreach team. “In New Jersey, Rutgers University scientists with the NASA-funded ENIGMA project shared scientific research about the search for life in the universe with young students.  We go inside the classroom to get the story.”
View the complete episode and transcript at SciTech Now – Jump to 9:20 to watch segment.

April 22, 2020

Douglas Pike presented “From Structure to Function of Primordial Events” as part of the Building Worlds Seminar Series.

April 22, 2020

Donato Giovannelli presented a Rutgers Biochemistry & Microbiology Seminar remotely on “Subsurface Biosphere Diversity Tracks Deep Plate Processes in a Subduction Zone”.

April 20, 2020

Post-doc Ariel Aptekmann of Rutgers and Joy Buongiorno of Carnegie Institute, ENIGMA team collaborators, presented an ENIGMA Seminar.  Ariel spoke remotely on “Prediction of Metal-binding Proteins from Protein Sequences “and Joy spoke on “Data Science Approaches Reveal Environmental Drivers Behind Microbial Oxidoreductase Abundance in Volcanic Ecosystems”.

April 6, 2020

Post-doc Julian Esselborn of UCSD, ENIGMA collaborators, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Mimicking Metalloprotein Evolution by Combination Metal Binding Motifs and Continuous Evolution”.

March 28, 2020

Doug Pike is an ENIGMA team researcher at Rutgers who is now working on the antiviral for COVID-19. He tells us about the development and what it means to winning the fight with the coronavirus.

Listen to the podcast at Sound Cloud.

March 24, 2020

And could help NASA find life on other planets.
The image shows a fold (shape) that may have been one of the earliest proteins in the evolution of metabolism. VIKAS NANDA/RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
Scientists believe they have discovered a simple protein that started all life 3.5 to 2.5 billion years ago, publishing their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We think we have found the building blocks of life – the Lego set that led, ultimately, to the evolution of cells, animals and plants,” says senior author Paul Falkowski from Rutgers University, US.

Read the complete article on Cosmos.

March 23, 2020

Graduate student Ian Campbell of Rice University, ENIGMA collaborators, presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Cellular Assay of Half-Fds”.

March 23, 2020

Post-doc Bhanu Jagilinki presented an ENIGMA Seminar remotely on “Understanding the Origins of Bacterial Ferredoxins.”

March 20, 2020

New ONLINE Program Series: Ask A Geologist!

 A new virtual series is being launched by the Rutgers Geology Museum to help in the homeschooling efforts of countless parents. 

Join bi-weekly (Tuesday/Thursday) for these online sessions, where we hope to engage children and answer their questions! Like all of the RU Geology Museum events, this virtual event is completely FREE!

During each event, our geologist will first introduce the day’s geologic topic and then answer your questions about it! Events are primarily aimed at elementary and middle school aged children, but all ages are welcome to join and learn something new!

Click on this for Event Schedule and more information.

March 18, 2020

The paper all the recent press is about by Hagai Raanan, Saroj Poudel, Douglas H. Pike, Vikas Nanda, and Paul G. Falkowski released in PNAS:

Raanan, H., Poudel, S., Pike, D. H., Nanda, V., & Falkowski, P. G. (2020). Small protein folds at the root of an ancient metabolic network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1914982117

March 17, 2020

Scientists Pin Down Protein Building Blocks that Powered Earth’s Earliest Life

Turning food into energy is essential for life to thrive, so researchers zoomed in on the tiny fragments of proteins that might have done the job billions of years ago.

Read the complete article at Discover Magazine.

March 16, 2020

International press coverage of the Raanan et al article in PNAS

Descubren las proteínas que hicieron posible la vida en la Tierra

Read the complete article in Spanish at El Mundo.

March 16, 2020

Study:  Structure of 3.5 Billion-Year-Old Molecules Could Help Us Find Aliens

This may be the biological signature we need to find life on other planets

Read the complete article at Inverse.

March 9, 2020

Graduate student Ashley Murphy presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Preservation of Organic Carbon in Dolomitized Cambrian Stromatolites”.

March 4, 2020

A collaborator Loren Williams, from Georgia Institute of Technology’s  Institute for Bioengineering & Biological Sciences ,  visited with the ENIGMA team for a couple of days. Williams’ talk was given on “Voyage from the Gates of the Hadean” and hosted by Vikas Nanda and CABM.

February 28-29, 2020

Bob Hazen presented the 40th Woodward-Eckis Leadership Lectures on “Chance, Necessity and the Origins of Life “and “The Story of Earth: How Life and Rocks Have Co-Evolved” at Pomona College, Claremont, CA..

February 28, 2020

A  collaborator Valentina Erastova, from the University of Edinburgh,  visited Rutgers for a couple of weeks. She is an expert in molecular simulations of solids, in particular mineral interactions with amino acids.  Erastova’s talk was given on “Modelling Dynamics in Solids:  From Origin of Life to Modern Challenges” and hosted by Nathan Yee and Department of Environmental Sciences.

February 24, 2020

Post-doc Joshua Mancini presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Reinventing the First Hydrogenases.”

February 19-20, 2020

Bob Hazen participated in NSF Workshop on low-T Geochemical Data in Atlanta, Georgia.

February 10, 2020

Post-doc Jennifer Timm presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Investigating the Proteins Involved in CODH Maturation.”

January 27, 2020

Check out another new publication:
Hao, J., Knoll, A. H., Huang, F., Hazen, R. M., & Daniel, I. (2020). Cycling Phosphorus on the Archean Earth: Part I. Continental weathering and riverine transport of phosphorus. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2020.01.027

January 20, 2020

Field trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City.

ENIGMA team members and Rutgers students went on a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City.  AMNH offered us a preview of their new planetarium show, Worlds Beyond Earth. A great science filled day.

January 17-19

Bob Hazen participated in Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) program meetings in Busan, South Korea.

January 13, 2020

Alesha Vega, ENIGMA Outreach and Community Engagement Coordinator, presented a poster on ENIGMA: After School Short Term Exploratory Clubs (STEP) and Family Science Programs in New Brunswick K-8 Schools, to 200 people at the annual Rutgers Cooperative Extension Conference.

January 9-10, 2020

Bob Hazen participated in meetings and workshops on building comprehensive, reliable, open-access deep-time data resources and resources in Tucson, Arizona as part of Carnegie Institute of Science’s Deep-Time Data Infrastructure (DTDI) program.

January 6, 2020

Jennifer Timm Ph.D. has joined the Falkowski and Nanda labs and will be focusing on metalloproteins, shedding light on how at the very origin of life peptides might have started to hold metal clusters and do complex chemical reactions.

January 6, 2020

Juliane Gross is to be the NASA Deputy Curator of Apollo Moon samples and is on leave (18 month IPA) at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX until summer 2021.

December 9, 2019

Post-doc Saroj Poudel presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Design to Distribution: The History of Nitrogenase.”

December 5, 2019

Rutgers researchers teach science to local students

Rutgers University postdoctoral associate researcher Kenneth McGuinness said he helps students to think about the diversity of life by taking them outside for lessons.

Read the complete article at the Daily Targum and My Central Jersey.

December 4, 2019

NASA-funded researchers say astrobiology lessons can boost a child’s confidence.
Students from McKinley Community School in New Brunswick have a Skype chat with Rutgers researcher Kasey Walsch in Antarctica.
Read the complete article at Rutgers Today.

November 25, 2019

How do we teach students to help in the search for extraterrestrial life? Universities should develop courses that integrate concepts in biology, physics, chemistry and planetary sciences, Dr. Nathan Yee says. Rutgers University’s School of Arts and Sciences did that this fall with the creation of an interdisciplinary course on astrobiology, which Yee teaches.
Read the complete Op-Ed article at The Star-Ledger/  

November 24, 2019

Rutgers researchers study origins of early life

Postdoctoral researcher Joshua Mancini said his group worked at the Busch and Cook campuses.

Read the complete article at the Daily Targum.

November 22, 2019

The Tyler Prize edition of NPR’s Blue Dot has just been released! Our own Paul G. Falkowski, 2018 Tyler Prize winner, speaks about this experiences of wonder as a child and how he came to understand the role of our planets oceans play in the biogeochemical cycles that regulate our climate.   He speaks on many interdisciplinary topics – microbes, phytoplankton, “life from light”/photosynthesis, evolution, climate change, and astrobiology.
Blue Dot 165: The Environmental Science Version Of The Nobel Prize: Tyler Laureates November 22, 2019 * For scientists in the fields of chemistry, medicine and physics, there is the Nobel Prize and all the accolades that come with it. But for scientists in the environmental sciences, the Tyler Prize was created by Ann and John Tyler in 1973 to recognize scientists making world class contributions to the fields of science that most impact our understanding of the Earth’s ecosystems.
You can listen to the conversation here.

November 21, 2019

Bob Hazen presented on the “Co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere “ at the University of Pittsburgh.

November 18, 2019

Post-doc Jihua Hao presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Cycling Phosphorus on the Early Earth and Enceladus.”

November 15th, 2019

Post-doc’s Jihua Hao,  Saroj Poudel and graduate student Douglas Pike presented papers for discussion at Rutgers newly formed Astrobiology Journal Club  (multidisciplinary discussions of papers pertinent to astrobiology).

November 13-14, 2019

Vik Nanda of Rutgers attended the NAI in-person EC meeting and the NASA Astrobiology Science Forum hosted by the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.

November 13, 2019

Enigma team post-doc’s and researchers Joshua Mancini, Saroj Poudel, and Douglas Pike were interviewed for the New Jersey News12 story “Rutgers researchers to investigate for NASA how life began”. They discussed their work on the Enigma NASA project –  the study of protein or peptides, which are the basic building blocks of life, and how life began on Earth.

Read the article on New Jersey News 12.

Biophysics doctoral candidate Douglas Pike, along with postdocs Josh Mancini and Saroj Poudel.

November 13, 2019

The Rutgers science and education team continued their school 4-H STEP club (Short Term Exploratory Program) focused on ENIGMA.  29 students (4-8th grade) from McKinley Ave Community School in New Brunswick, NJ participated – Every Tuesday and Wednesday from Oct.  15 to Nov. 13th (excluding Nov. 5th).

November 11, 2019

Post-doc Saroj Poudel presented “Nanomachines that powered ancient life “ at Rutgers Theobald Smith Society Fall Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology.

November 7, 2019

Rutgers Researchers Set Out to Prove Evolution of All Life, Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life

From simple proteins to living cells, NASA-funded research at Rutgers tests theories on the origins of life.

Read the complete article at Rutgers Today.

November 6, 2019

Professor Juliane Gross helps NASA open Apollo samples ahead of Artemis missions

NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample of rock and regolith from the Apollo era has been opened. It sets the stage for scientists to practice techniques to study future samples collected on Artemis missions.

Read the complete article at NASA.

November 4, 2019

Graduate student Ian Campbell of Rice University presented an ENIGMA Seminar on “Evolutionary Relationships Between Low Potential Ferredoxin and Flavodoxin Electron Carriers.”

October 30-31, 2019

Our Carnegie Institute collaborators held a datathon with Sara Walker of Arizona State University, with the objective of advancing NAI themes related to the expression of oxidoreductase enzymes in differing geological/geochemical environments.

October 28, 2019

Rock-breathing aliens? NASA researcher says we must think beyond anything we know

Any place where there is water on Earth, scientists say they have found life. A Rutgers University professor says in the search to find extraterrestrial life, the focus should be not on planets but rather on moons in our galaxy where there’s evidence of water… Nathan Yee is a NASA-funded researcher at Rutgers and is teaching a new class on astrobiology, the study of alien life, the university said. “In science fiction, there is a lot of effort put into searching for signs of life like plants, animals and organisms that look like us. But there is a higher probability that alien life will be at the microscopic level. That fact is so much more interesting when you consider what the earliest lifeforms on Earth were capable of doing.”

Read the complete article in the Kansas City Star.

October 26, 2019

Shaunna Morrison of Carnegie Institute for Science won the DCO Emerging Leader award  at the Deep Carbon 2019 meeting.

October 23-26, 2019

Bob Hazen,  Shaunna Morrison, Adrienne Hoarfrost, Joy Buongiorno, Donato Giovannelli, and Jihua Hao of the Enigma team attended and presented on NAI themes at the Deep Carbon 2019 meeting in Washington DC.

October 21, 2019

Graduate student Douglas Pike presented an ENIGMA Seminar here at Rutgers on “Dimensionality Reduction of Protein Structure for Phylogenetic Analysis and Design of Putative Ancestral Proteins.”

October 19, 2019

Warm Congratulations to Bob Hazen who was elected as a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences!

October 15, 2019

“Are We Alone in the Universe? Rutgers Professor Explores Possibility of Life on Mars and Beyond” – Rutgers’ first astrobiology course explores possibility of alien microbes on other planets and moons
People have spent centuries wondering whether life exists beyond Earth, but only recently have scientists developed the tools to find out.
One of them is Nathan Yee, a Rutgers University-New Brunswick professor of geomicrobiology and geochemistry and a co-investigator at Rutgers ENIGMA, a NASA-funded research team focused on discovering how proteins evolved to become the catalysts of life on Earth. Yee co-created and teaches Rutgers’ first course on astrobiology, an interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand whether life arose elsewhere and whether we can detect it.
Read the complete article on Rutgers Today.

October 8-9, 2019

Alesha Vega, ENIGMA education and outreach team specialist, attended and presented at the 20th annual Conference of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium in Denver, Colorado. Alesha presented “Engaging Urban K-12 Children in Complex Science Topics” using the Enigma after-school and family science night programs as a paradigm.

October 7, 2019

Check out another new publication:

Miller, M., Vitale, D., Kahn, P.C., Rost, B., & Bromberg, Y. (2019). fuNTRp: Identifying protein positions for variation driven functional tuning. Nucleic Acids Research, , gkz818, DOI/10.1093/nar/gkz818/5580908

Hazen, R. M., Bromberg, Y., Downs, R. T., Eleish, A., Falkowski, P. G., Fox, P., … & Knoll, A. H. (2019). Deep Carbon through Deep Time: Data-Driven Insights in Whole Earth Carbon. Online Publication.

September 16, 2019

Post-doc Ariel Aptekmann presented the first Enigma Seminar of the term here at Rutgers on  “Prediction of metal-binding proteins from sequence.”

September 6, 2019

Bob Hazen presented a seminar on “Co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere” at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

September 4, 2019

Shaunna Morrison gave a talk on mineral network analysis with middle school student collaborator, Cadence Boucher, at the Mineralogical Society of DC.

August 19-23, 2019

Bob Hazen presented a paper on “An evolutionary system of mineralogy” at the Goldschmidt.  Additionally, our Carnegie team post-docs of Joy Buongiorno and Shaunna Morrison had talks/abstracts on the Enigma project at the Goldschmidt Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

August 19, 2019

Rutgers is offering its first Astrobiology course for undergraduates this coming Fall 2019. It is being taught by Prof. Nathan Yee, ENIGMA team member and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  Course description is so interesting: Investigation of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in our solar system and beyond. Addresses some of the biggest questions in science today such as where life began, whether there is life on other planets, and how scientists search for extra-terrestrial life. Course code is 01:460:225–Astrobiology (3 cr) and there are no prerequisites.

August 15, 2019

Warm Congratulations to Bob Hazen who was elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union!

August 13, 2019

Some more new publications from Bob Hazen to check out:

Hazen, R.M. (2019) An evolutionary system of mineralogy: Proposal for a classification based on natural kind clustering. American Mineralogist, 104, 810-816.

Chan, M.A., Hinman, N.W., Potter-McIntyre, S.L., Schubert, K.E., Gillams, R.J., Awramik, S.M., Boston, P.J., Bower, D.M., Des Marais, D.J., Farmer, J.D., Jia, T.Z., King, P.L., Hazen, R.M., Leveille, R.J., Papineau, D., Rempfert, K.R., Sanchez-Roman, M., Spear, J.R., Southam, G., Stern, J.C., and Cleaves, H.J. II (2019) Deciphering biosignatures in planetary contexts. Astrobiology, 19, 28 p.

August 1-2, 2019

Post-doc’s Kenneth McGuinness, Saroj Poudel, and Ariel Aptekmann attended the MIT Dating in Deep Time II Workshop, in Cambridge MA. Kenneth presented a talk on “Can we date the emergence of metal-binding proteins in deep time?” and Ariel presented his poster on “Archaea genomic adaptations and their effect on phylogeny reconstruction“.

July 23, 2019

Rutgers Researchers Identify the Origins of Metabolism” – Scientists insert synthesized, primordial protein into living cells.

A Rutgers-led study sheds light on one of the most enduring mysteries of science: How did metabolism – the process by which life powers itself by converting energy from food into movement and growth – begin?

To answer that question, the researchers reverse-engineered a primordial protein and inserted it into a living bacterium, where it successfully powered the cell’s metabolism, growth and reproduction, according to the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the complete article on SEBS/NJAES Newsroom.

July 21, 2019

Shaunna Morrison gave an invited talk on “Predicting Martian Mineral Compositions In-situ: Crystal Chemical Techniques” at the American Crystallographic Association Annual meeting in Cincinnati, OH/Northern KY.

July 20, 2019

Professor Gross to become NASA Deputy Curator of Apollo Moon samples:  NASA has offered Professor Juliane Gross, ENIGMA team member and Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University, an 18 month IPA (Intergovernmental Personnel Act) position to help open the Apollo Moon samples that were sealed 50 years ago. She will be the new “Deputy Apollo Sample Curator” at NASA JSC in Houston and will work in curation next to Dr. Ryan Zeigler (Apollo Sample Curator and the Branch Chief of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office) to oversee the preparations to open the samples and assist in the preliminarily examination, as well as assist in the curation of all other Apollo samples. As well as working in the Apollo lab, Professor Gross will be conducting experiments at NASA JSC, which also will allow Rutgers students a prestigious opportunity to help conduct research a NASA facility. Additionally, Professor Gross recently was interviewed for the special “50 years ago – One Giant Leap” magazine, jointly published by National Geographic and USA Today. In the article “Rocks unlocked”, she is quoted together with NASA civil servant Sarah Noble about the importance of the samples collected during the Apollo mission and how study of lunar basalt rocks can help understand the origins of Earth.
Read the complete article at USA Today.

July 15-19, 2019

Paul Falkowski and post-doc Joshua Mancini participated in the 2019 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop: Astrobiology for Astronomers, at Caltech. Paul presented on “Life as a Major Driver of Biogeochemical Cycles”.

Additional presentations from the Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop can be viewed here.

July 15-17, 2019

Bob Hazen participated in a datathon at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to create a new, interactive visualization tool for the Dana mineral classification system.

July 15, 2019

Congratulations to Rutgers undergraduate Havishk Tripathi on the recent article  “Havishk Tripathi Wins NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award” which highlights his many paths, interests, and experiences in science.  The Falkowski lab team is especially proud to have supported his passions and of his NAI Early Career Award for travel to the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Japan.

Read the article on SEBS/NJAES Newsroom.

July 8-12, 2019

Our NASA funded ENIGMA Education and Outreach team had a chance to participate in the 4-H STEM Ambassadors Program for urban youth, at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers. Ten students from New Brunswick, Newark, Paterson, Trenton, and Atlantic City participated in a full day of learning about proteins which took place on July 10th  during the STEM “Pursue” projects portion of the program. The 9th and 10th graders had a chance to work at a college junior and senior-level of understanding to complete this proteins-focused ENIGMA project. Their work resulted in a poster presentation to 150 people at a closing luncheon for the program. The students worked with Dr. Shuchi Dutta, Dr. Vikas Nanda and Dr. Ken McGuinness.

July 1, 2019

Check out our latest publication:

 Mutter, A.C., Tyryshkin, A.M., Campbell, I.J., Poudel, S., Bennett, G.N., Silberg, J.J., Nanda, V. and Falkowski, P.G. (2019). De novo design of symmetric ferredoxins that shuttle electrons in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(29), pp.14557-14562.

June 15, 2019

ENIGMA Co-I and Executive Director of the Deep Carbon Observatory, Robert M. Hazen, has crafted a delightful exploration of carbon, entitled: Symphony in C: Carbon & the Evolution of (Almost) Everything. In this new work, he uses his knowledge of musical compositions as a muse to explain the complexities of carbon and why it is so important to life on Earth. Learn more about the book:

Hazen’s book is a valuable and welcome explanation of why we would do well to pay more attention to the sixth element  — and of how much more remains to be discovered about its planetary role through time. Nature

Despite its abundance and importance, the location and cycling of carbon on Earth are not yet well understood. Ever-increasing atmospheric concentrations of its dioxide form lend urgency to a more accurate accounting of this element. However, it is Hazen’s enthusiasm, the string of shareable facts presented, and the introduction of so many interesting scientists that make this book such a fascinating read. Science.

June 11-13, 2019

Paul Falkowski visited with ENIGMA collaborators Oded Livnah and Yossi Paltiel of Hebrew University while in Israel.

June 6, 2019

Shaunna Morrison participated in a panel on “Subsurface Data and Machine Learning” at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC.

June 1, 2019

Vikas Nanda attended the Structure and Function of Natural Proteins and Maquettes:  A Symposium in Honor of P. Leslie Dutton at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He  presented on the “Modular origins of oxidoreductases.

May 30, 2019

Vikas Nanda  presented “Co-evolution of proteins and metals“ at CUNY School of Medicine, New York , NY.

May 29-30, 2019

Paul Falkowski and Nathan Yee attended the NASA Astrobiology Institute Executive Council and Science Meeting in Greenbelt, MD.

May 24-27, 2019

Bob Hazen presented a featured public lecture on “The private lives of crystals” (exploring NAI themes of planetary evolution) at Balticon (the annual science and science fiction convention) in Baltimore.

May 15-16, 2019

Bob Hazen, Shaunna Morrison, and Donato Giovannelli  attended  a data science workshop, “UI Research Computing and Data Science Symposium”, where they explored advanced methods of data analysis and visualization at the University of Idaho, Moscow.

May 7-8, 2019

Our second ENIGMA Annual Astrobiology Symposium took place on Rutgers New Brunswick Campus. Our team of Co-Investigators, collaborators, post-doc’s, graduate students, staff, and undergraduates convened for a great two day event, forwarding our multi-themed integrated science together with excellent presentations and discussions.

April 24, 2019

Rutgers undergraduate Havishk Tripathi received an NAI Early Collaborator Award and will be heading to the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Japan for research with Dr. Henderson James (Jim) Cleaves. Havishk has been working in the Falkowski lab the past year and we are so very happy for him.

April 17-19, 2019

Bob Hazen and Shaunna Morrison attended a meeting of the Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) founding committee to discuss how the 4D Initiative will interface with DDE in Kunshan, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.

April 15, 2019

Merino, N., Aronson, H. S., Bojanova, D. P., Feyhl-Buska, J., Wong, M. L., Zhang, S., & Giovannelli, D. (2019). Living at the Extremes: Extremophiles and the Limits of Life in a Planetary Context. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10, 780.

April 14, 2019

The ENIGMA (Evolution of Nanomachines in Geospheres and Microbial Ancestors) project led by Rutgers scientists, launched another interactive K-8 Family Science Night entitled “Exploring Life on Other Planets”, at the McKinley School in downtown New Brunswick, NJ. The Family Science Night event centered on a relatable curriculum for the whole family through five different astrobiology-themed stations. Scientists from the ENIGMA project shared their experiences with this exciting and cutting-edge research in the hopes of inspiring young scientists in research.

Read the article on NJTV or watch the video below.

April 9, 2019

Bob Hazen presented “Where Minerals and Biology Collide” at the Arlen Edgar Distinguished Lecture at the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas.

April 4-11, 2019

Janice McDonnell, the NAI Rutgers outreach team, with post-doc’s Kenneth McGuinness, Saroj Poudel, Josh Mancini, Max Miller, and others, lead two Family Science programs entitled “Exploring Life on Other Planets” with two of our local New Brunswick K-8 schools and their families. They were a tremendous success with 150 participants at the Greater New Brunswick Charter School and 60 at McKinley Community School.

Read a great Rutgers Newsroom article on our Family Science Nights

April 4, 2019

Janice McDonnell was interviewed on News12 NJ at the Family Science Night event held on April 4th at the Greater Brunswick Charter School. Our Rutgers ENIGMA team, Geology Museum staff, and Rutgers scientists engaged in an evening of fun and exploration about the universe, earth science and life on other planets through hands on activities, demonstrations and exhibits.

April 2-4, 2019

Shaunna Morrison attended a NASA Mars Science Laboratory team meeting at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt.

April 2, 2019

Shaunna Morrison presented “The Age of Data: Visualizing the Revolution” in the Capital Science Evening Lecture at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

April 1, 2019

Adrienne Hoarfrost Ph.D. has joined the Bromberg lab and will be focusing on finding the relationship between bacterial microbial functionality and the corresponding trace elements found in the environment.

March 18-24, 2019

Paul Falkowski participated in the World Science Festival Brisbane 2019.

March 22, 2019

Bob Hazen presented “Evolution of minerals throughout Earth history” at the Industry-Rice Science Symposium, Rice University.

March 21-22, 2019

Shaunna Morrison presented “Data science in mineral exploration” at the Industry-Rice Earth Science Symposium 2019 (IRESS) in Houston.

March 17, 2019

The Rutgers Geology Museum is showing a new exhibit on meteorites and planetary science. Through the guidance of Rutgers University’s own resident meteorite expert, Dr. Juliane Gross (CoI) of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, this three-part exhibit details the formation history of our Solar System and tells the story of how stars and planets are formed.

March 17, 2019

Bob Hazen presented the “Science Sunday” lecture at Ohio State University on “Life’s Rocky Start” (origins of life).

March 6, 2019

Bob Hazen presented “Chance, Necessity, and the Origins of Life” at Janelia Farms “Dialogues of Discovery” series (Warrenton, VA).

February 27, 2019

Bob Hazen presented “The Story of Earth” at the Geological Society of London.

February 27, 2019

Paul Falkowski was interviewed by NY Times science writer Ferris Jabr.

February 26-28, 2019

Shaunna Morrison presented a keynote talk entitled “Applications of Advanced Analytics and Visualization in Mineral Systems” at the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) Recognized Big Science Program Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) in Beijing, China.

February 14-15, 2019

Visiting lecturer and ENIGMA Collaborator Oded Livnah of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem meet extensively with team members and gave a talk on “The Quest for Smart(er) Avidins: Old Dog – New Tricks” at Rutgers CABM.

February 12, 2019

Vikas Nanda presented “Evolution and engineering of protein electron transfer” at Kansas University Center for Computational Biology.

February 11, 2019

Janice McDonnell and her education and outreach team are currently providing on-going support/science communication training for the post-docs and graduate students involved in the ENIGMA project. The workshops, entitled Communication Strategies for Interdisciplinary Learning, provide participants with an overview of learning theory to help improve collaborations within and outside of their discipline.

February 11, 2019

Three more publications in press that we are looking forward to sharing:

Hazen, R.M. (2018) Earth in five reactions: Grappling with meaning and value in science. American Mineralogist, in press.

Estrada, C., Sverjensky, D.A., and Hazen, R.M. (2018) Selective adsorption of calcium-aspartate ligands onto [Mg(OH)2]-brucite: Implications for calcium in prebiotic chemistry. Astrobiology, in press.

Freiberger, M.I., Guzovsky,B.A., Wolynes, P.G., R. G., Parra, & D.U. Ferreiro. (2019). Local frustration around enzyme active sites. Proc Natl Acad Sci., in press.

February 11, 2019

Janice McDonnell and her education and outreach team met with ENIGMA team postdoc’s to develop a series of Community Engagement events (Family Science and a Special Interest (SPIN) Club for urban youth. We will offer an 8-week ENIGMA SPIN club in collaboration with two local K-8 schools (Greater New Brunswick Charter School and McKinely Ave School, New Brunswick, NJ).

February 8, 2019

Adrienne Hoarfrost Ph.D. (who will be joining Yana Bromberg’s group in April) has been awarded a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellowship.

February 4, 2019

ENIGMA Team conference call was held.

February 1, 2019

Visiting lecturers Eli Moore and Stephanie Spielman of Rowan University presented “Investigating Vanadium’s Evolving Redox Chemistry and the Expanding Total Mineral Network” at our NAI Seminar Series.

January 30, 2019

Check out new paper acknowledging the NAI:

Morrison, S., Runyon, S., & Hazen, R. (2018). The Paleomineralogy of the Hadean Eon Revisited. Life, 8(4), 64. DOI: 10.3390/life8040064

January 30, 2019

Post-doc Kenneth McGuinness presented to the team on the evolution of metalloproteins at our NAI Seminar Series.

January 24, 2019

Donato Giovannelli is starting his new position as an assistant professor at the Department of Biology of the University of Naples.

January 22, 2019

Joy Buongiorno has gone to work on her postdoctoral projects with ENIGMA Collaborator, Donato Giovannelli, at the University of Naples for several months.

January 19, 2019

Bhanu Jagilinki Ph.D. joins the Rutgers ENIGMA team as a postdoctoral fellow exploring metallo-peptides of the pre-biotic world.

January 18, 2019

Janice McDonnell recently became partner in Center for Advancing the Societal Impacts of Research (ARIS Center) to translate the importance of scientific research to the public, as part of $5.2 million NSF grant. We are delighted for Janice and her enlarged role in science education and outreach.

January 17, 2019

Shaunna also presented “Multidisciplinary approaches in Earth, life and planetary science with application of advanced analytics…” at Wayne State University.

January 15, 2019

Shaunna Morrison presented “Advanced analytics and visualization applications in Earth and planetary science” at Rutgers Earth & Planetary Science Colloquium.

January 14, 2019

As an introduction, Joy Buongiorno presented to the team “Climate change and the microbial ferrous wheel: Implications of Arctic warming on biogeochemical cycling in sediments?“

January 11, 2019

Check out new paper acknowledging the NAI:

Turjanski, P., & Ferreiro, D. U. (2018). On the Natural Structure of Amino Acid Patterns in Families of Protein Sequences. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 122(49), 11295-11301.

January 9, 2019

Joy Buongiorno joined the Carnegie Institute of Science team as a post-doc working on the ENIGMA project relating the expressed protein functions of extant microbial communities to their geochemical environments.

January 7, 2019

Shaunna Morrison consulted with a First Lego Robotics Team, “Galaxy Explorers,” to discuss and hone their project on “Helping astronauts sleep better by auto-adjusting their mission schedule based on their body’s circadian rhythm.” The Galaxy Explorers made it to the finals – congratulations!

December 21, 2018

Post-doc Joshua Mancini presented to the team on primordial folds of iron sulfur proteins at our Rutgers NAI Seminar Series.

December 10, 2018

AGU 2018 Fall Meeting December 10-14, Washington D.C.:

Bob Hazen presented three talks:

  • “Data-Driven Discovery in Biogeoscience: Past, Present, and Future“
  • “Data-Driven Discovery and the Rise of the Collaborative Culture of Data Sharing (Invited) “
  • “Natural Kind Cluster Analysis of Mineral Chemistry Data: A New Approach to Mineral Classification”

December 9, 2018

Bob Hazen and Shaunna Morrison attended Deep Carbon Observatory Virtual Reality Data Visualization workshop.

December 7, 2018

Shaunna Morrison additionally participated in an outreach program with high school students at Virginia Episcopal School, presenting her “Mars Science Laboratory” lecture.

December 6, 2018

Shaunna Morrison presented as part of an outreach program with 4H Homeschool groups, “Mars Science Laboratory” lecture.

November 20, 2018

Visiting lecturer John Goldbeck of Penn State meet with NAI team members and gave a talk on “The Influence of the Great Oxygenation Event on the Structure and Function of Type I Photosynthetic Reaction Centers” at Rutgers CABM.

November 16, 2018

Paul Falkowski participated in Rutgers STEMcosR outreach programing to high school and community college students. Keynote lecture was “Light to Life”.

November 9, 2018

Post-doc Andrew Mutter presented his talk to the team on ferredoxin scaffolds at our Rutgers NAI Seminar Series.

November 8, 2018

Yana Bromberg presented “Forget their names: understanding the microbiome without focusing on individual microbes“at Emory University.

November 7, 2018

Paul Falkowski presented “Life’s engines: How microbes made Earth habitable” as part of Old Dominion University’s College of Sciences’ Dean’s Lecture Series.

November 7, 2018

Vikas Nanda presented “Structure-guided design of peptides” at 2018 Symposium on Protein Engineering and Molecular Design of Industrial Enzymes, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China.

November 4, 2018

GSA 2018 Annual Meeting, Indianapolis:

Bob Hazen was chair with Ed Grew of University of Maine of session on mineral evolution and ecology. Hazen presented “Natural kind clustering of planetary materials: A new data-driven approach to mineral classification”.

At same GSA 2018 session keynote was presented by Shaunna Morrison on “Advanced analytical and visualization techniques applied to mineral evolution and ecology.“ Daniel Hummer, Hazen, Morrison, and others: “Ecology and evolution of manganese minerals: Implications for the redox history of Earth and life“. Grethe Hystad, Hazen, Morrison, and others: “Future and current approaches for modeling the distribution of minerals on Earth and other planets”.

In other GSA 2018 sessions, Shaunna Morrison had a Keynote: “Applications in comparative planetology: Advanced analytics and visualization of mineral systems” and Grethe Hystad, Hazen, Morrison, and others: “Estimating Earth’s undiscovered mineralogical diversity using a Bayesian approach”.

November 1, 2018

Check out new paper:

Loell, Kaiser, and Vikas Nanda. “Marginal protein stability drives subcellular proteome isoelectric point.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018): 201809098.

October 26, 2018

Rutgers NAI Seminar Series: Saroj Poudel presented his work on the evolution of metal binding proteins.

October 25, 2018

Vikas Nanda presented “Evolution and Engineering of Protein Electron Transfer” at Princeton University.

October 25, 2018

Paul Falkowski presented “Light to Life: The coevolution of the geosphere and biosphere “at UC Berkeley.

October 22, 2018

Paul Falkowski presented the Storer Lecture at UC Davis on “The Origin and Emergence of Global Coupled Biogeochemical Cycles.”

October 17, 2018

NAI ENIGMA team and EBME lab members Paul Falkowski, Vikas Nanda, Saroj Poudel, Joshua Mancini, Kenneth McGuinness, Andrew Mutter, Douglass Pike, Winnie Liu, and Liti Haramaty visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA) for collaborative meetings and a tour.

October 16, 2018

Paul Falkowski presented “Legos of Life” at the Flatiron Institute in NYC.

October 14, 2018

Bob Hazen also presented at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution’s Origin’s of Life Workshop in Atlanta October 14-17th.

October 12, 2018

Rutgers NAI Seminar Series: Doctoral student Douglass Pike presented his work in iron-sulfur peptide design.

October 9, 2018

Vikas Nanda presented “Evolution and Engineering of Protein Electron Transfer” at Syracuse University Department of Chemistry.

October 6, 2018

Post-doc Douglas Pike presented a poster on “De novo design of a primitive ferredoxin” at the 32nd Gibbs Conference on Biological Thermodynamics in Carbondale, IL October 6-9th.

October 5, 2018

Bob Hazen presented the keynote address, “Chance, necessity, and the origins of life” at the Center for the Study of Origins, University of Colorado Boulder.

October 3, 2018

Shaunna Morrison presented “Advanced analytics and visualization of mineral systems” and “Roving the Red Planet: Exploring the habitability and geologic history of Mars” at University of Toronto Seminar, Toronto, Canada, October 3rd-4th.

October 1, 2018

ENIGMA Team leaders meeting held with Paul Falkowski, Nathan Yee, Yana Bromberg, Vikas Nanda, Bob Hazen, and Shaunna Morrison.

September 24, 2018

Bob Hazen participated in the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) team meeting at CalTech in Pasadena, Ca. September 24 -26th.

September 21, 2018

Bob Hazen presented a seminar at Ohio State entitled “Deep-time data-driven discovery and the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere”.

September 20, 2018

ENGIMA welcomes new team members:

Joshua Mancini, Ph.D. joins us as a postdoctoral fellow exploring the primordial folds of iron sulfur proteins.

Saroj Poudel, Ph.D. joins us as a Rutgers EOAS Planetary Habitability Postdoctoral Fellow to study origins and evolution of redox catalysts.

Kenneth McGuinness, Ph.D. joins us as a postdoctoral fellow to study the evolution of redox enzymes using machine learning approaches.

September 7, 2018

de novo designed 4Fe-4S binding peptide capable of robust electron transfer” paper featured in Forbes article “A Tiny Protein Like This May Have Kick-Started Life On Earth”.

This paper was also featured in the following:

Astrobioogy Magazine:

Science Daily:

September 5, 2018

Check out new paper “Minimal hetereochiral de novo designed 4Fe-4S binding peptide capable of robust electron transfer” in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Kim, J.D., Pike, D.H., Tyryshkin, A.M., Swapna, G.V.T., Raanan, H., Montelione, G.T., Nanda, V. and Falkowski, P.G.

September 3, 2018

Vikas Nanda presented at Ursinus College Chemistry Seminar Series “What did proteins look like 4,000,000,000 years ago?”.

September 3, 2018

Paul Falkowski to serve as an advisor for new NASA Center for Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space (CUBES).

September 3, 2018

Mihaela Glamoclija joined COSPAR “Sample Safety Assessment Protocol (SSAP) Working Group” to assess the safety of samples from Mars. The final product of these working group activities will be published and will feed into the current NASA-ESA activities on Mars sample return.

September 3, 2018

Mihaela Glamoclija and Graduate Student Ashley Murphy have returned from Morocco where they sampled Precambrian and Cambrian carbonates for the Europlanet ( funded project “Moroccan Early Animal Record from Precambrian – Cambrian Transient Environments and its Relevance for Life Detection on Mars”. Glamoclija group is going to combine laboratory based research and data mining to learn in more details about formation of new habitable environments as recorded in Ediacaran period of Moroccan Anti-Atlas mountains and the early animal evolution from the Cambrian sequences.

August 20, 2018

Postdocs Shaunna Morrison, Chao Liu, Allison Enright, and Graduate Student Ashley Murphy attended the GeoDeepDive Workshop in Madison, Wisconsin from August 20 to 21. Go to ( to learn how to explore and handle the data from big data depository such as GeoDeepDive.

August 16, 2018

At the University of Sydney, Australian National Science Week Special Seminars, Robert Hazen gave a lecture on “The co-evolution of rocks and life: data-driven insights from ‘The New Mineralogy'”, and Shaunna Morrison presented “Mars Science Laboratory: Exploring the habitability and geologic history of the red planet.”

August 15, 2018

Robert Hazen presented at the International Mineralogical Association Conference XXII in Melbourne “A revised (upwards) estimate of Earth’s missing minerals,” Monday, August 13, 2018 and “Data-driven discovery in <strong>mineralogy: setting the stage for MSA’s second century,”.

August 15, 2018

Shaunna Morrison gave another Keynote: “In situ mineralogical observations on Mars: Discoveries by the CheMin X-ray diffraction instrument,”.

August 13, 2018

Nathan Yee gave a Keynote lecture at the Goldschmidt Conference in Boston entitled: “The Role of Cellular Cysteine in Microbe-Metal Interactions”.

August 13, 2018

Shaunna Morrison gave Keynote at International Mineralogical Association Conference XXII in Melbourne, Australia: “Recent advances in mineral evolution and mineral ecology via big data analytics and visualization”.

August 12, 2018

Graduate Student, Winnie Liu, presented her work on photo-oxidation of Mn-containing minerals at the 2018 Goldschmidt Conference in Boston August 12-17, 2018. Poster entitled “Abiotic Conversion of Rhodochrosite to Mn Oxides by Ultraviolet Light”.

July 12, 2018

Rutgers graduate student, Benjamin Jelen, was invited to serve as Executive Secretary for the Early Metabolisms panel of the Exobiology 2018 review August 5-10, 2018> in San Diego.

June 11, 2018

Paul Falkowski was interviewed on NJTV NEWS providing background and commentary into NASA’s recent discoveries on Mars and recent Science papers on complex organic molecules and seasonal methane on Mars.

Life on Mars? Rutgers professor breaks down NASA’s most recent discovery

June 2, 2018

Several members of the team including Yana Bromberg, Donato Giovannelli, Vik Nanda, and Nathan Yee attended a “4D Data Workshop” hosted by team member Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institute.

June 1, 2018

Three members of the team, Paul Falkowski, Vik Nanda, and Nathan Yee attended a workshop on light driven catalysis hosted by CIFAR.