Expertise: Organic and Isotope Geochemistry
Affiliation: McMaster University
Ph.D. Isotope Geochemistry (2001), University of Toronto
I am currently an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Isotope Biogeochemistry at McMaster University. My research focuses on the use of multiple compound-specific isotope analytical techniques to investigate and constrain the sources and cycling of organic compounds in environmental systems. I am particularly interested in the identification and interpretation of biosignatures of microbial organisms and the implications that this has for our ability to interpret the history of life on earth in the geologic record, and to search for signatures of life on other planets,such as Mars. Pavilion lake, and the nearby saline, alkaline evaporitic lakes of the Cariboo plateau provide a unique opportunity to investigate the biosignatures of modern microbial systems. My group is characterizing the geochemical and isotopic signatures of these systems, particularly the carbon sources, microbial cellular components and metabolic byproducts of the organisms that are living on the surface of the microbialites and as thick microbial mats in the Cariboo lakes. By understanding these systems and the geochemical and isotopic signatures associated with them, we can not only increase our knowledge of the capabilities and activities of life, but also build the foundation necessary to interpret geological and/or astrobiological samples.