Postdoc opportunities with NASA

Join the VPL and MUSE ICAR teams in their pursuit of groundbreaking research on the early Earth environment and alternative evolutionary scenarios for microbial metabolisms and enzymes. We invite proposals for NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) projects that will establish connections between the ICAR teams, driving the exploration of life beyond our planet.

The overarching objective of the interdisciplinary VPL ICAR (part of the NExSS RCN) is to propel NASA’s quest for exoplanet life by addressing the fundamental question: “How can we effectively assess the presence of life on an exoplanet?” Meanwhile, the MUSE ICAR (part of the LIFE RCN) focuses on understanding the natural selection of chemical elements during the coevolution of life and the environment on the early Earth.

As part of the newly funded VPL ICAR, Dr. Rika Anderson (Carleton College) and Dr. Betül Kaçar (UW – Madison Department of Bacteriology) are collaborating to identify enzymes associated with the production or consumption of volatile species which could become detectable biosignatures. We are particularly interested in metalloenzymes, which generate and process a diverse range of potential biosignature gases, including CH4, N2O, CO, NH3, organic sulfur compounds, and methylated halogens. To investigate the emergence and dissemination of these microbial metabolisms, we will employ bioinformatics and phylogenetics approaches.

We welcome NPP proposals that build upon the work proposed by the VPL ICAR, specifically forging explicit links between the VPL and MUSE ICAR teams. While Dr. Anderson will serve as the primary advisor, the postdoctoral researcher will work closely with both Drs. Anderson and Kaçar, as well as the rest of the VPL and MUSE teams. Moreover, the postdoc will have the autonomy to shape and conduct their own research projects. There is flexibility to work on-site at Carleton or UW-Madison or to work remotely. Those who are interested in writing a proposal should contact Dr. Anderson ( and Dr. Kaçar

( directly by September 1. Please provide a CV and a 1-page summary of research interests and background, particularly in relation to the themes described above. For more information about the NPP Program, how to apply, and eligibility, see here:

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