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Emily Cardarelli

Photo of Emily Cardarelli


4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Astrobiology and Ocean Worlds


Emily is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Astrobiogeochemistry Laboratory at JPL. Her research is driven by understanding how microbes and the earth interact across spatial scales, within landscapes, and through time. Using laboratory- and field-based studies, she integrates phylogenetic, genomic, and geochemical techniques to illuminate subsurface microbe-mineral interactions and biogeochemical processes within alluvial environments. At JPL, Emily investigates biosignature formation and preservation in subsurface Mars-analog environments.


  • Ph.D. in Earth System Science, Stanford University (2021)
  • M.S. in Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University (2015)
  • B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science (magna cum laude w/ dept. honors), Tulane University(2012)

Professional Experience

(2020-present) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Astrobiogeochemistry, NASA-JPL, Pasadena, CA.

  • Investigating Mars analog systems for microbial biosignatures, specifically within modern and ancient magnesite precipitating environments through bulk solid-phase techniques (SEM, CF-EA-irMS, XRD, XAS), compound-specific approaches (GC-MS/MS, GC-irMS, microscopy, SIMS, nanoSIMS)

(2012-2020) Graduate Research Assistant, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

  • Examined the size, structure, and potential geochemical controls of microbial communities belowground using molecular biology techniques (functional genes, qPCR, FISH, metagenomics), geochemical characterization techniques for solid-phase elemental analysis (XRF, ICP-MS/OES, XAS*) and multivariate statistics (nonparametric hypothesis testing, regression analyses) from >500 samples collected from 17 cores (2-10 m down) over five sites in the American West. *XAS (for uranium) on ~20 samples
  • Evaluated the size and diversity of N cycling communities at five sites and from the topsoil to 10 m below-ground; found AOA and AOB ecotypes within these terrestrial subsurface soils are primarily associated with conditions influenced by water table position, location of the NRZ, or both.
  • Elucidated microbial diversity, niche partitioning, and succession patterns in semi-arid terrestrial subsurface environments are shaped by hydrologic conditions and seasonal disturbances (i.e. drought to flood conditions)
  • Determined native microbial communities in-situ limit uranium’s movement from floodplain soils to water bodies

(2010-2012) Undergraduate Research Assistant, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.

  • Proposed a new area of research within the Rosenheim Lab through an undergraduate research grant funded in full by the Louisiana SeaGrant Program
  • Utilized natural abundance carbon and nitrogen isotope measurements made by elemental analysis isotope ratio mass spectrometry (EA-irMS) to evaluate spatiotemporal particulate organic carbon and nitrogen transformation trends within the water column of a newly constructed wetland

(2009-2011) Research Assistant, Department of the U.S. Army, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

  • Authored a research proposal to examine the lifecycle of behavioral healthcare providers in the private and public sectors
  • Prepared reports to the Secretary of the Army on recruiting and retention of behavioral healthcare professionals for different demographics

Community Service

2019             EARTH 203: Diversity and Inclusion in the Geosciences, Stanford University, Instructor and Course Developer

2019-2020    Stanford Polo Club, Stanford University

2017-2020    Chair, ESS Student-Invited Seminar Committee, Stanford University

2014-2015    Vice-President, Graduate Student Advisory Council, Stanford  University

2012-2016   Volunteer soil instructor, GeoKids (1,000 children per year), Stanford          University

Research Interests

subsurface microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, genomics, biosignature formation/preservation, stable isotope geochemistry, regolith-water interfaces

Selected Awards

  • Community Impact Award, awarded for dedication and meaningful impact on the Stanford community, Stanford Alumni Association, Stanford University (2020)
  • Rising Environmental Leaders Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University (2019)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring, Stanford School of Earth, Energy, and Environment, Stanford University (2016)
  • Tulane 34 Award, given for leadership, service, and academic contributions to the Tulane community, Tulane University (2012)
  • Chairman’s Award, awarded for high academic standing and research contributions in Earth and Environmental Science at Tulane University (2012)
  • The Under the Oaks Award, awarded for advancing women’s education at Tulane University (2012)
  • Certificate of Achievement Award, Department of the U.S. Army (2010)

Selected Publications

2020 Cardarelli, E.L., Bargar, J.R., & Francis, C.A. Diverse Thaumarchaeota dominate subsurface ammonia-oxidizing communities in semi-arid floodplains in the Western United States. Microbial Ecology. DOI:10.1007/s00248-020-01534-5.

2017       Noël, V., Boye, K., Kukkadapu, R. K., Bone, S., Lezama-Pacheco, J., Cardarelli, E., Janot, N., Fendorf., S., & Bargar, J. R. Understanding controls on redox processes in floodplain sediments of the Upper Colorado River Basin. Science of The Total Environment. 603: 663-675. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.109

2017       Noël, V., Boye, K., Lezama-Pacheco, J., Bone, S., Janot, N., Cardarelli, E., Williams, K., & Bargar, J. Redox controls over the stability of U(IV) in floodplains of the Upper Colorado River Basin. Environmental Science and Technology. 51: 10954-10964. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b02203

2017       Peay, K., von Sperber, C., Cardarelli, E., Toju, H., Francis, C., Chadwick, O., & Vitousek, P. Convergence and contrast in the community structure of Bacteria, Fungi and Archaea along a tropical elevation-climate gradient. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 93. DOI: 10.1093/femsec/fix045

2013       Cardarelli, E.L. Unraveling the black box of aquaria biofilter function: FISHing for novel ammonia-oxidizing archaea associations. Online Publication, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods' Hole, MA. online: