Programs

Our activities are organized into programs in basic research exploration, the application of research insights, and innovations in science education.

Exploration

Shark Bay, Western Australia. Ancestors of the stromatolites at Shark Bay caused the rise of O2 in Earth’s atmosphere.In basic research exploration, we use chemical concepts and approaches – particularly the techniques of isotope geochemistry – to understand the geological, chemical and biological processes that sustain life at Earth’s surface, how they have changed through time, and how they might operate on other worlds. These investigations reveal the ebbs and flows of Earth’s history as an inhabited world, teach us about the complex relationships between life and environment, and help guide the search for life beyond Earth. LEARN MORE…

Application

bed-rest-studyWe are also deeply motivated by the application of basic research insights to make this world a better place. For example, the techniques of isotope geochemistry that we develop and use to study the ancient Earth turn out to be the foundation of a new class of “isotope biomarkers” that hold great promise for biomedical research and clinical application. These techniques also provide new ways of studying the human imprint on the modern environment. More broadly, basic knowledge about how planets sustain life provides pragmatic new perspectives on our role and responsibility as the first species to have intelligent control over the life support systems of “spaceship Earth”. LEARN MORE…

Education

education-field-tripThe focus of our education activities is to use innovative online teaching technologies to improve the science education of non-science majors. Most students will always major outside the sciences, yet in a democratic society it is vital that these future voters and leaders understand the nature of science.

Our primary goal is to convey that science is not a collection of facts, but rather a process of narrowing the uncertainties in areas where the facts are not known. In addition, we aim to tighten the ties between cutting edge research and undergraduate education. Emerging digital technologies, when used creatively, can greatly facilitate these goals by engaging students in immersive, interactive, adaptive, and game-like simulations and lessons that bring students closer to real research experiences. Our thesis is that this type of pedagogy will do a far better job than traditional lecture-lab pedagogy in motivating students and modeling the authentic practices of science. LEARN MORE…