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 Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology (3225): People
Amy E. Hofmann's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-301
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Amy E. Hofmann

Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Green Morning” captured Amy’s imagination at an early age. By 9th grade, she had learned that Carl Sagan had, in fact, coined a word for “growing plants on Mars”: terraforming. From that point on, she has meandered through myriad disciplines in pursuit of answers (or, more appropriately, proto-answers) to three Big Questions:

  1. How did life originate on Earth, and has it originated (and evolved) elsewhere within the Solar System?
  2. What are the necessary physical parameters of a planetary system that could lead to the emergence of life?
  3. Are we alone in the Universe?

Amy has used analytical instrumentation, experimentation, mathematical modeling, and computational chemistry to try and understand chemical processes and mechanisms operating at the smallest technologically accessible scales in earth and planetary materials. She uses such data to infer the geochemical (and, in some cases, geobiological) context in which these materials formed and how their chemistry may have been altered over time. She is committed to the belief that knowledge gained from these ventures will help inch us toward answers to the Big Questions listed above.

  • Ph.D., Geochemistry, California Institute of Technology (2010)
  • M.S., Geochemistry, California Institute of Technology (2008)
  • B.A., Special Studies, Franklin & Marshall College (2004)

Research Interests
  • Geology and geochemistry of the Hadean and Archean Earth in conjunction with the geology, geochemistry, and geobiology of extant Earth environments analogous to those postulated to harbor life on both the Early Earth and other solar system bodies
  • Prebiotic chemistry, mineral-surface-mediated reactions
  • Thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions at phase boundaries and interfaces
  • Exploration and characterization of icy and ocean worlds in the outer solar system
  • Instrument design for micro-scale sample analysis with a focus on spectroscopy and mass spectrometry

Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2016 – present)
    • Research Scientist / Lab Manager, Icy & Ocean Worlds Simulation Laboratory (Planetary Chemistry & Astrobiology Group)
  • Franklin & Marshall College (2013 – 2016)
    • Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • University of California, Berkeley (2012)
    • Instructor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2010 – 2013)
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Isotope Geochemistry, Earth Sciences Division
  • California Institute of Technology (2005 – 2010)
    • Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences

Community Service
  • Multiple education and public outreach events in Earth & Space Sciences with an emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills, improved scientific literacy, and attempts to illustrate how humans are intimately connected to the natural world.
  • Mentoring of women, minorities, and individuals from low-income backgrounds interested in pursuing careers in STEM.

Selected Awards
  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences Japanese–American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium Fellow (2012)
  • American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Scholarship (2006–2008)
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention (2006)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (2003)

Selected Publications
  1. Hofmann AE, Baker MB, & Eiler JM (2014) Sub-micron-scale trace-element distributions in zircons of known provenance: Implications for Ti-in-zircon thermometry. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 168: 1057.
  2. Eiler JM, Berquist B, Bourg I, Cartigny P, Farquhar J, Gagnon A, Guo W, Halevy I, Hofmann A, Larson TE, Levin N, Schauble E, & Stolper D (2014) Frontiers of stable isotope geochemistry. Chemical Geology 372: 119–143.
  3. Hofmann AE, Baker MB, & Eiler JM (2013) An experimental study of Ti and Zr partitioning among zircon, rutile, and granitic melt. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 166: 235–253.
  4. Eiler J, Cartigny P, Hofmann AE, & Piasecki A (2013) Non-canonical mass laws in equilibrium isotopic fractionations: empirical evidence from the vapor pressure isotope effect of SF6. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 107: 205–219.
  5. Hofmann AE, Bourg IC, & DePaolo DJ (2012) Ion desolvation as a mechanism for kinetic isotope fractionation in aqueous systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 109: 18689–18694.
  6. Hofmann AE, Valley JW, Watson EB, Cavosie AJ, & Eiler JM (2009) Sub-micron-scale distributions of trace elements in zircon. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 158: 317–335.
  7. Milman-Barris M, Beckett JR, Baker MB, Hofmann AE, Morgan Z, Crowley M, Vielzeuf D, & Stolper EM (2008) Zoning of phosphorous in magmatic olivine. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 155: 739–765.
  8. Yoder CH, Agee TM, Ginion KE, Hofmann AE, Ewanichak JE, Schaeffer Jr. CD, Carroll MJ, Schaeffer RW, & McCaffrey PF (2007) The relative stabilities of the copper hydroxyl sulphates. Mineralogical Magazine 71: 571–577.

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