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Laurie Barge

Photo of Laurie Barge


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-301

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Laboratory Studies



Dr. Laurie Barge is a Research Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She studies the emergence of life and ways to search for life elsewhere, and is interested in all worlds where water/rock interactions might have occurred including early Earth, Mars, and Ocean Worlds (e.g. Europa, Enceladus, Ceres). Dr. Barge is also the HiRISE Investigation Scientist for NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. Dr. Barge co-leads the JPL Origins and Habitability Laboratory, an astrobiology research team which studies how life emerges and can be detected on planets. From 2014-2018 she was a member of the international advisory board of the ELSI Origins Network (EON); and from 2012-2017 she chaired the NASA Astrobiology Institute focus group "Thermodynamics, Disequilibrium, Evolution" which hosted scientific meetings at various institutes around the world. Laurie is a steering committee member for the NASA Astrobiology Program's Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW) and an Action Group lead for the Network for Life Detection (NFoLD). For her astrobiology research Dr. Barge has received the NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal, the JPL Lew Allen Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Laurie received her B.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Villanova University and her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Southern California. After graduate school she was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech/JPL and then with the NASA Astrobiology Institute. In her free time she enjoys running, cycling, and plays the fiddle in a local Irish music group.


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

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)

Community Service

Dr. Barge is Co-PI of the NSF funded project "Pathways in STEM: Cross-Sector Partnerships, Experiential Learning, and Professional Development", a 5-year program led by Citrus College which aims to increase the number of diverse students who are retained and successfully complete STEM degrees at Hispanic Serving Institute two-year institutions. In the "Pathways in STEM" program starting in 2020, Citrus College and JPL will join forces with multiple distinct STEM organizations and institutions to provide experiential learning; mentoring; education and career advice; development of science communication skills; and community building for students. The approach for the "Pathways in STEM" program is built upon lessons learned from a highly successful NSF-funded program that Dr. Barge was Co-PI of from 2015-2019, "Bridge to the Geosciences (BTTG)" (led by Citrus College). The overarching goal of the Citrus College BTTG project was to increase the number of diverse and traditionally underserved community college students who: (1) were exposed to education and career opportunities in the geosciences and, through this exposure, (2) opted to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program in geoscience. The BTTG data showed that the student participants gained tremendous benefit from exposure to new career options and being part of a supportive peer community. Dr. Barge is also active in astrobiology outreach and science communication. She was recently featured on NASA's "Ask an Astrobiologist" series and NASA's Gravity Assist podcast, and her research has been featured in various outlets including CBS "Mission Unstoppable", PBS, NOVA, and Discovery Channel.

Research Interests

Dr. Barge's main research interests are understanding the origin of life on early Earth, differentiating abiotic from biological organic chemistry in geological environments, and exploring hydrothermal vents in the lab and in the field. She is the Science-PI of the NASA In-Situ Vent Analysis Divebot for Exobiology Research (InVADER) project, which will send a laser spectroscopy payload to a hydrothermal vent in the Pacific Ocean. She also leads research projects relevant to prebiotic chemistry and habitability, including studying the origin of metabolic reactions in geological settings, and cycling of phosphorus and nitrogen in redox active mineral systems. Dr. Barge mentors undergraduate / graduate students and postdocs who are part of her team; see for more details about her current research projects.

Selected Awards

  • Scialog "Signatures of Life in the Universe" Fellow (2020)
  • 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)
  • Co-PI, NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Hispanic Serving Institutions program, "Pathways in STEM: Cross-Sector Partnerships, Experiential Learning, and Professional Development to Build Pathways to STEM Careers" (2020-2025)
  • PI, JPL Strategic R&TD, "Understanding abiotic organic chemistry driven by minerals in Ceres' and Enceladus' oceans" (2020-2022)
  • PI, NASA Habitable Worlds, "Phosphorus Redox Chemistry on Icy and Rocky Planets" (2018-2021)
  • PI, JPL Spontaneous R&TD: "A New Magnetic Electron Detection Technique for Astrobiology" (2020)
  • PI, JPL Researchers on Campus program: "Fate of nitrate/nitrite in an ancient ocean on Mars" (2019)
  • 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 IUSE, "GP-EXTRA - Bridge to the Geosciences for Community College Students" (2015-2018)
  • PI, JPL Spontaneous R&TD, "Geo-Electrodes for Astrobiology Experiments" (2016)

Selected Publications


[italic] = Student / postdoc under my supervision

  1. L. M. Barge, E. Flores, J. Weber, M. M. Baum, D. VanderVelde, A. Castonguay. (2020) Effects of Geochemical and Environmental Parameters on Abiotic Organic Chemistry Driven by Iron Hydroxide Minerals. JGR-Planets, 125, 11, e2020JE006423,
  2. V. P. Aguirre, S. Jocic, P. Webster, C. Buser, J. A. Moss, L. M. Barge, Y. Tang, Y. Guo, M. M. Baum. (2020) Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-valent Iron Double Layer Hydroxides (“Green Rust”). ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, 5, 1, 40–54.
  3. N. Hermis, G. LeBlanc, L. M. Barge. Simulation of Prebiotic Early Earth Hydrothermal Chimney Systems in a Thermal Gradient Environment. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2020.
  4. K. Chin, J. Pasalic, N. Hermis, L. M. Barge (2020) Chemical Gardens as Electrochemical Systems: In-situ Dynamic Characterization of Simulated Prebiotic Hydrothermal Chimneys by Impedance Spectroscopy. ChemPlusChem, 85(12):2619-2628.
  5. J.-P. Jones, S. A. Firdosy, L. M. Barge, J. C. Bescup, S. M. Perl, X. Zhang, A. M. Pate, R. E. Price. (2020) 3D Printed Minerals as Astrobiology Analogs of Hydrothermal Vent Chimneys. Astrobiology, in press.
  6. R. Hudson, R. de Graaf, M. Rodin, N. Lane, S.E. McGlynn, A. Ohno, Y.M.A. Yamada, R. Nakamura, L. M. Barge, D. Braun, V. Sojo. (2020) CO2 reduction driven by a pH gradient. PNAS, in press.
  7. L. M. Barge, J.-P. Jones, J. Pagano, E. Martinez, J. Bescup. (2020) 3-Dimensional Analysis of a Simulated Prebiotic Hydrothermal Chimney. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry,
  8. Hooks M. R., Webster P., Weber J. M., Perl S., Barge L. M. (2020) Effects of Amino Acids on Iron-Silicate Chemical Garden Precipitation. Langmuir, 36, 21, 5793–5801.
  9. 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;
  10. L. M. Barge (2019) Considering planetary environments in origin of life studies. Nature Communications 9, 5170
  11. T. R. Maltais, D. VanderVelde, D. LaRowe, A. D. Goldman, L. M. Barge (2019) Exploring Reactivity of Metabolic Intermediates and Cofactor Stability Under Early Earth Conditions. Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, DOI: 10.1007/s11084-019-09590-9.
  12. B.R. Lam, L.M. Barge, A.C. Noell, K.H. Nealson. (2020) Detecting Microbial Metabolism and Differentiating Between Abiotic and Biotic Signals Observed by Bioelectrochemical Systems in Soils. Astrobiology, 20, 1, 39-52.
  13. Q. Wang, L. M. Barge, O. Steinbock (2019) Microfluidic Production of Pyrophosphate Catalyzed by Mineral Membranes Over Steep pH Gradients. Chemistry - A European Journal, 25, 18, 4732-4739,
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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,
  18. 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. (2019) Self-Assembling Iron Oxyhydroxide / Oxide Tubular Structures: Laboratory-Grown and Field Examples from Rio Tinto. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2016.0466.
  19. 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,
  20. Barge L. M. and White L.M. (2017) Experimentally Testing Hydrothermal Vent Origin of Life on Enceladus and Other Icy/Ocean Worlds. Astrobiology, Special Collection on Enceladus, 17(9):820-833
  21. 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. DOI: 10.1007/s11084-016-9508-z.
  22. 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)
  23. C. Scharf, N. Virgo, H. J. Cleaves II, M. Aono, N. Aubert-Kato, A. Aydinoglu, A. Barahona, L. M. Barge, et al. (2015) A Strategy for Origins of Life Research. Astrobiology 15(12):1031-1042, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2015.1113.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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 et Cosmochimica Acta, 128, 1-12.
  31. 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.
  32. 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, 13, 3, DOI: 10.1089/ast.2012.0834.
  33. 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)
  34. 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.
  35. 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, 332, 6034, pl 1149.
  36. 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.
  37. L. M. Barge, K. Nealson, J. Petruska (2010) Organic Influences on Inorganic Patterns of Diffusion-Controlled Precipitation in Gels. Chemical Physics Letters, 493 (4-6), 340-345.