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 Laboratory Studies (3227): People
Laurie  Barge's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-255
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Email Contact:
Curriculum Vitae:

Laurie Barge

  • Ph.D., Geological Sciences, University of Southern California (2009)
  • B.S., Astronomy and Astrophysics (Minor in Physics), Villanova University (2004)

Research Interests

I am interested in the emergence of life on early Earth, hydrothermal vents and mineral-organic chemistry, and understanding how to look for life on Mars and ocean worlds. I co-lead the JPL Origins and Habitability Lab, an astrobiology research team that studies origin of life, extremophiles, habitability, and life detection (more at I also focus on outreach and mentoring for women / minorities in STEM. See for more information about my science and outreach activities.


MRO - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Icon MRO - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) launched in 2005 and is on a search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a long period of time.

Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2010-present)
    • HiRISE Investigation Scientist, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2015 - present)
    • Research Scientist, Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology group (2015-present)
    • NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015)
    • Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar, Planetary Sciences Section (2010-2013)
  • University of Southern California (2004-2009)
    • Research Assistant, Dept. of Earth Sciences
  • Marathon Oil Company (Summer 2008)
    • Petrophysics Intern (Zeolite formation in petroleum reservoirs)
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2005-2006)
    • Research Assistant (Landing site hazard analysis for Phoenix and Mars Science Laboratory)
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Summer 2004)
    • NASA Academy Intern (Carbon isotope analysis of Mars analog samples)
  • Villanova University (2002-2004)
    • Research Assistant, Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Determine orbital properties of eclipsing binary systems in the Magellanic Clouds)

Selected Awards
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for innovative fuel cell-based research (2019)
  • NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal (2019)
  • JPL Lew Allen Award for Excellence, for pioneering research on the application of electrochemistry to studies of the origin and emergence of life. (2018)
  • PI, NASA Habitable Worlds, “Phosphorus Redox Chemistry on Icy and Rocky Planets” (2018-2021)
  • PI, JPL Topical R&TD, “Planetary Habitability Test Beds” (2017-2018)
  • Science-PI, NASA PSTAR, “In-Situ Vent Analysis Divebot for Exobiology Research” (2018-2021)
  • PI, NASA/NSF Ideas Lab for the Origins of Life, “Becoming Biotic: Recapitulating the Origin of Ancient Metabolic Pathways” (2017-2020)
  • PI, JPL Spontaneous R&TD, “Phosphorus Chemistry on Early and Present Day Mars”  (2018)
  • Investigation Lead / Co-I, NASA Astrobiology Institute, Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN-7), “Icy Worlds: Astrobiology at the Water-Rock Interface and Beyond…” (PI: Isik Kanik) (2015-2019)
  • Co-PI, NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE), “GP-EXTRA - Bridge to the Geosciences for Community College Students” (2015-2018)  
  • Co-I, NASA MaTISSE, “In-situ Spectroscopic Europa Explorer (iSEE)” (PI: Pablo Sobron, SETI) (2018-2021
  • Co-Lead, JPL Blue Sky Study: Planetary Soils (2018)
  • PI, JPL Spontaneous R&TD, “Which Came First, Proteins or Cofactors? Recreating Metabolic Reactions on the Early Earth” (2017)
  • PI, NASA Astrobiology Institute Director’s Discretionary Fund, “Catalytic Diversity at the Emergence of Metabolism: Hydrothermal Carbon Dioxide Reduction on Fe/Ni-Sulfide Catalysts” (2016)
  • PI, JPL Spontaneous R&TD, “Geo-Electrodes for Astrobiology Experiments” (2016)
  • Co-Lead, JPL Blue Sky Study: Origin of Life (2016)
  • JPL Advanced Concept Development: “Sulfate and amino acid absorption in Mars analog minerals” (2015)
  • JPL Planetary Instrument Advanced Concept Development, “Simulated Seafloor Systems for Origin of Life Studies”, (2014)
  • PI, NASA Astrobiology Institute Early Career Collaboration Grant: “Prebiotic Phosphorus Chemistry” (2014)
  • Co-I, JPL Strategic University Partnership Program (SURP) award, “Microbial Fuel Cells for in-situ life detection” (2013)
  • PI, NASA Astrobiology Institute Early Career Collaboration Grant: “Effects of Catalytic Iron-Containing Minerals on RNA Synthesis”, (2013)

Selected Publications
  1. L.M. Barge, E. Flores, M.M. Baum, D. VanderVelde, M.J. Russell (2019) Redox and pH Gradients Drive Amino Acid Synthesis in Iron Oxyhydroxide Mineral Systems. PNAS, 116 (11) 4828-4833;
  2. L.M. Barge (2019) Considering planetary environments in origin of life studies. Nature Communications 9, 5170
  3. T. R. Maltais, D. VanderVelde, D. LaRowe, A. D. Goldman, L. M. Barge. Exploring Reactivity of Metabolic Intermediates and Cofactor Stability Under Early Earth Conditions. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, in review, 2019.
  4. B.R. Lam, L.M. Barge, A.C. Noell, K.H. Nealson. Detecting Microbial Metabolism and Differentiating Between Abiotic and Biotic Signals Observed by Bioelectrochemical Systems in Soils. Astrobiology, in press 2019.
  5. Q. Wang, L. M. Barge, O. Steinbock (2019) Microfluidic Production of Pyrophosphate Catalyzed by Mineral Membranes Over Steep pH Gradients. Chemistry - A European Journal,
  6. Hendrix A.R., Hurford T.R., Barge, L.M., Bland M.T., Bowman, J.S., and 23 co-authors (2019) The NASA Roadmap to Ocean Worlds. Astrobiology, 19, 1, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2018.1955.
  7. L. M. Barge, F. C. Krause, J.-P. Jones, K. Billings, P. Sobron (2018) Geo-Electrodes and Fuel Cells for Simulating Hydrothermal Vent Environments. Astrobiology, 18, 9, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2017.1707
  8. H.L. Juntunen, L. Leinen, B.K. Pitts, S.M. O’Hanlon, B. Theiling, L.M. Barge, P. Videau, M.O. Gaylor (2018) Investigating the kinetics of montmorillonite clay-catalyzed conversion of anthracene to 9,10-anthraquinone in the context of prebiotic chemistry. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, doi: 10.1007/s11084-018-9562-9.
  9. S.D. Vance, L.M. Barge, S.S.S. Cardoso, J.H.E. Cartwright. (2019) Self-assembling ice membranes on Europa: Brinicle properties, field examples, and possible energetic systems in icy ocean worlds. Astrobiology, 19, 5,
  10. Chin K. B., Chi I., Pasalic J., Huang C.-K., Barge L. M. (2018) An introductory study using impedance spectroscopy technique with polarizable microelectrode for amino acids characterization. Review of Scientific Instruments 89, 045108,
  11. Barge L. M. and White L.M. Experimentally Testing Hydrothermal Vent Origin of Life on Enceladus and Other Icy/Ocean Worlds. Astrobiology, Special Collection on Enceladus, 17(9):820-833
  12. Barge L.M., Cardoso S.S.S., Cartwright J.H.E., Doloboff I.J., Flores E., Macías-Sánchez E., Sainz-Díaz C.I., Sobrón P. Self-Assembling Iron Oxyhydroxide / Oxide Tubular Structures: Laboratory-Grown and Field Examples from Rio Tinto. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, Published 9 November 2016.DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2016.0466.
  13. Barge L.M., Branscomb E., Brucato J.R., Cardoso S.S., Cartwright J.H., Danielache S.O., Galante D., Kee T.P., Miguel Y., Mojzsis S., Robinson K.J., Russell M.J., Simoncini E., Sobron P. (2016) Thermodynamics, Disequilibrium, Evolution: Far-From-Equilibrium Geological and Chemical Considerations for Origin-Of-Life Research. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres. 2016 Jun 6, DOI: 10.1007/s11084-016-9508-z.
  14. O. Steinbock, J. H. E. Cartwright, L. M. Barge. (2016) The Fertile Physics of Chemical Gardens. Physics Today, 69(3), 44, doi: 10.1063/PT.3.3108. (Featured on cover of March 2016 issue)
  15. C. Scharf,N. Virgo,H. J. Cleaves II, M. Aono,N. Aubert-Kato, A. Aydinoglu, A. Barahona, L. M. Barge, S. A. Benner,M. Biehl,R. Brasser, C. J. Butch,K. Chandru,L. Cronin, S. Danielache, J. Fischer, J. Hernlund, P. Hut, T. Ikegami, J. Kimura, K. Kobayashi, C. Mariscal, S. McGlynn, B. Menard, N. Packard, R. Pascal, J. Pereto, S. Rajamani, L. Sinapayen, E. Smith, C. Switzer, K. Takai, F. Tian, Y. Ueno, M. Voytek, O. Witkowski, H. Yabuta (2015) A Strategy for Origins of Life Research. Astrobiology 15(12):1031-1042, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2015.1113.
  16. L. M. Barge, Y. Abedian, M. J. Russell, I. J. Doloboff, J. H. E. Cartwright, R. D. Kidd, I. Kanik. (2015) From Chemical Gardens to Fuel Cells: Generation of Electrical Potential and Current Across Self-Assembling Iron Mineral Membranes. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 54, 28:8184-8187, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201501663.
  17. L. M. Barge, S. S. S. Cardoso, J. H. E. Cartwright, G. J. T. Cooper, L. Cronin, A. De Wit, I. J. Doloboff, B. Escribano, R. E. Goldstein, F. Haudin, D. E. H. Jones, A. L. Mackay, J. Maselko, J. J. Pagano, J. Pantaleone, M. J. Russell, C. I. Sainz-Díaz, O. Steinbock, D. A. Stone, Y. Tanimoto, N. L. Thomas. (2015) From Chemical Gardens to Chemobrionics. Chemical Reviews, 115 (16), pp 8652–8703, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00014.
  18. L. M. Barge, Y. Abedian, I. J. Doloboff, J. E. Nunez, M. J. Russell, R. D. Kidd, I. Kanik. (2015) Chemical Gardens as Flow-Through Reactors Simulating Natural Hydrothermal Systems. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 105, DOI: 10.3791/53015.
  19. B. T. Burcar, L. M. Barge, D. Trail, E. B. Watson, M. J. Russell, L. B. McGown. (2015) RNA Oligomerization in Laboratory Analogues of Alkaline Hydrothermal Vent Systems. Astrobiology, 15(7): 509-522. doi:10.1089/ast.2014.1280.
  20. L. M. Barge, T. P. Kee, I. J. Doloboff, J. M. P. Hampton, M. Ismail, M. Pourkashanian, J. Zeytounian, M. M. Baum, J. Moss, C.-K. Lin, R. D. Kidd, I. Kanik (2014) The Fuel Cell Model of Abiogenesis: A New Approach to Origin-of-Life Simulations. Astrobiology, 14(3):254-70.
  21. Russell, M. J., Barge, L. M., Bhartia, R., Bocanegra, D., Bracher, P., Branscomb, E., Kidd, R., McGlynn, S., Meier, D., Nitschke, W., Shibuya, T., Vance, S., White, L. (2014) The Drive to Life on Rocky and Icy Worlds. Astrobiology,14, 4, 308-343.
  22. Cover designer, Astrobiology Journal, April 2014 issue.
  23. Barge, L. M., Doloboff, I. J., Russell, M. J., VanderVelde, D., White, L. M., Stucky, G. D., Baum, M. M., Zeytounian, J., Kidd, R., Kanik, I. (2014) Pyrophosphate Synthesis in Iron Mineral Films and Membranes Simulating Prebiotic Submarine Hydrothermal Systems. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, 128, 1-12.
  24. J. Petruska and L. M. Barge. (2013) Bilaterally Symmetric Facial Morphology Simulated by Diffusion-Controlled Chemical Precipitation in Gel. Chemical Physics Letters 556, 315–319.
  25. L. M. Barge, A. A. Pulschen, A. P. M. Emygdio, C. Congreve, D. E. Kishimoto, A. G. Bendia, A. Teles, J. DeMarines, D. Stoupin (2013)  Life, the Universe, and Everything: An Education Outreach Proposal to Build a Traveling Astrobiology Exhibit. Astrobiology, Vol. 13, No. 3, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2012.0834.
  26. L.M. Barge, I. J. Doloboff, L. M. White, G. D. Stucky, M. J. Russell, I. Kanik. (2012) Characterization of Iron-Phosphate-Silicate Chemical Garden Structures.  Langmuir, 28 (8), pp 3714-3721 (Featured on cover of Feb 28, 2012 issue) 
  27. M. A. Chan, S.L. Potter, B.B. Bowen, W. T. Parry, L. M. Barge, W. Seiler, E.U. Petersen, J. R. Bowman (2012) Characteristics of terrestrial ferric oxide concretions and implications for Mars. In J. Grotzinger and R. Milliken, Sedimentary geology of Mars:  SEPM Special Publication No. 102, p. 253-270.
  28. B. Schoepp-Cothenet, W. Nitschke, L. M. Barge, A. Ponce, M. J. Russell, A. I. Tsapin (2011) Comment on “A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus”  Science, vol. 332, no. 6034, pl 1149.
  29. L. M. Barge, D. E. Hammond, M. A. Chan, S. Potter, J. Petruska, K. H. Nealson (2011) Precipitation Patterns Formed by Self-Organizing Processes in Porous Media.  Geofluids, 11: 124-133.
  30. L. M. Barge, K. Nealson, J. Petruska (2010) Organic Influences on Inorganic Patterns of Diffusion-Controlled Precipitation in Gels.  Chemical Physics Letters, Vol. 493, Issues 4-6, pp. 340-345.

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