Biosignatures & Paleobiology

Graduate Student Opportunities in Microbial Paleobiology and Geochemistry

By Keith Cowing
December 18, 2012

Departments of Geology and Chemistry, University of Cincinnati

I am looking for M.S. or Ph.D. students to join my lab at the University of Cincinnati in the Department of Geology. Overall, I am interested in the early history of life on Earth, evidence for which can come from morphological and geochemical studies of microfossils as well as chemical and isotopic signatures in ancient sediments. I am also interested in the Phanerozoic record of microbes. I have an affiliation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute and there will be opportunities for students to get involved.

Possible topics that students could pursue include:
*Precambrian record of deep-water microbiotas
*Metabolisms of ancient microbes
*Taphonomy and fossilization of microorganisms
*Phanerozoic record of microbial life
*Microbial endoliths in Phanerozoic skeletal fossils

My lab is designed to study both the morphology and chemistry of fossil microorganisms via standard transmitted light microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Additionally, I have collaborations and associations with researchers at many institutions, including UCLA, UW-Madison, JPL, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where students can access facilities not available in my lab, such as multi-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometers, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, and organic geochemical and carbon isotope facilities.

The University of Cincinnati is home to the #6 ranked paleontology program in the country and students would have access to expertise of world-class paleontologist and geochemists, as well as the courses offered, such as Marine Paleoenvironments and Paleoecology, Biodiversity Through Geological Time, and Organic Geochemistry.

Students should have a background (B.S./B.A. or M.S.) in geology, biology, microbiology, chemistry, or other related field. Note: my joint appointment in the departments of Geology and Chemistry means students can be enrolled in either department. For more information, please contact Andy Czaja at: 513-556-3574 (office) 310-720-5601 (cell) [email protected] (website:

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) πŸ––πŸ»