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Sunanda Sharma

Photo of Sunanda Sharma


4800 Oak Grove Drive

Pasadena, CA 91109


(626) 298-4302


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Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary Geosciences


I am an interdisciplinary scientist focusing on astrobiology research and currently supporting the SHERLOC instrument on Mars 2020. In my research, I aim to understand the limits of life and the detection of biosignatures in extreme and Mars environments. I am passionate about interdisciplinary research and practice bio-integrated design to promote greater inclusion and understanding across fields and audiences.


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD (2020)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MS (2016)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS (2014)

Professional Experience

  • 2021-present: JPL Postdoctoral Scholar
  • 2020-present: Research Affiliate, MIT Space Exploration Initiative
  • 2021: Artist-in-Residence, Applied and Molecular Microbiology, TU Berlin
  • 2020-2021: Owner & Scientific Consultant, ex situ bio
  • 2020: Lead Scientist, Oxman (NYC)

Community Service

● Explore JPL (2023)

● JPL Mars 2020 Science Outreach, Exploratorium (2022)

● Biodesign Challenge Expert (2022)

● MIT Educational Counselor (2021-present)

● Intel Society for Science Alumni Classroom Volunteer (2021)

● MIT Media Lab Outreach (2014-2020)

● MIT Students Offering Support program (2014-2020)

Research Interests

Astrobiology, microbiology, microbial pigmentation, microscopy, spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, 3D printing, biodesign, computational image analysis, bioengineering

Selected Awards

  • Mars 2020 JPL Excellence Award for SHERLOC Operations Team (2023)
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie Seal of Excellence for Project 101032466, COLORSIGNS (2021)
  • MIT Graduate Woman of Excellence (2017)
  • Materials Research Society Travel Award (2017)
  • MIT Media Lab Departmental Advisory Committee and Funding Award (2016)
  • MIT Undergraduate Research Award (2014)

Selected Publications

  1. Simon J, Hickman-Lewis K, Cohen B, Mayhew L, Shuster D, Debaille V, Hausrath E, Weiss B, Bosak T, Zorzano M, Amundsen H, Beagle L, Bell III J, Benison K, Berger E, Beyssac O, Brown A, Calef F, Casademont T, Clark B, Clave E, Crumpler L, Czaja A, Fairen A, Farley K, Flannery D, Fornaro T, Forni O, Gomez F, Goreva Y, Gorin A, Hand K, Hamran S, Henneke J, Herd C, Horgan B, Johnson J, Joseph J, Kronyak R, Madariaga JM, Maki J, Mandon L, McCubbin F, McLennan S, Moeller R, Newman C, Nunez J, Pascuzzo A, Pedersen D, Poggiali G, Pinet P, Quantin-Nataf C, Rice M, Rice Jr. J, Royer C, Schmidt M, Sephton M, Sharma S, Siljestrom S, Stack K, Steele A, Sun V, Udry A, VanBommel S, Wadhwa M, Wiens R, Williams A, Williford K. (2023) Samples collected from the Floor of Jezero crater with the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. JGR Planets, doi: 10.1029/2022JE007474.
  2. Corpolongo A*, Jakubek RS*, Abbey W, Asher S, Baker D, Beegle LW, Berger EL, Bhartia R, Brown A, Burton A, Bykov S, Cardarelli E, Cloutis E, Conrad P, Czaja AD, DeFlores L, Flannery D, Fornaro T, Fox A, Fries M, Haney N, Hickman-Lewis K, Lee C, McCubbin FM, Minitti M, Morris R, Roppel R, Scheller EL, Sharma S, Shkolyar S, Siljestrom S, Steadman K, Steele A, Uckert K, Wogsland B, Yanchilina A. (2023) SHERLOC Raman minerals detections of the Mars 2020 Crater floor campaign. JGR Planets, doi: 10.1029/2022JE007455. (*joint first authors)
  3. Harfouche M*, Kim K*, Zhou KC, Konda PC, Sharma S, Thomson EE, Cooke C, Xu S, Yang X, Yao X, Pathak V, Appel R, Cooke C, Doman J, Horstmeyer G, Park J, Reamey P, Saliu V, Naumann E, Horstmeyer R. (2023) Multi-scale gigapixel microscopy using a multi-camera array microscope. Optica, doi: 10.1364/OPTICA.478010.
  4. Thomson EE, Harfouche M, Kim K, Konda PC, Seitz CW, Cooke C, Xu S, Jacobs WS, Blazing R, Chen Y, Sharma S, Dunn TW, Park J, Horstmeyer R, Naumann EA. (2022) Gigapixel behavioral and neural activity imaging with a multi-camera array microscope. eLife, doi: 10.7554/eLife.74988.
  5. Scheller EL*, Razzell Hollis J*, Cardarelli EL, Steele A, Beegle LW, Bhartia R, Conrad P, Uckert K, Sharma S, Berger EL, Burton AS, Ehlmann BL, Fornaro T, Fries M, Kah L, Kizovski T, McCubbin FM, Moore K, Roppel R, Siljeström S, Wogsland B, and the SHERLOC Team. (2022) Aqueous Alteration Processes and Implications for Organic Geochemistry in Jezero Crater, Mars. Science, doi: 10.1126/science.abo5204. (*joint first authors)
  6. Razzell Hollis J, Sharma S, Abbey W, Bhartia R, Fries M, Beegle L. (2022) A Deep-Ultraviolet Raman and Fluorescence Spectral Library of 51 Organic Compounds for the SHERLOC instrument onboard Mars 2020 Astrobiology, doi: 10.1089/ast.2022.0023.
  7. Moore KR, Present T, Pavia F, Grotzinger J, Razzell Hollis J, Sharma S, Flannery D, Bosak T, Tuite M, Knoll AH, Williford K. (2022) Biosignature preservation aided by organic-cation interactions in Proterozoic tidal environments. Palaios, doi: 10.2110/palo.2022.017.
  8. Farley KA, Stack KM, Horgan BHN, Tarnas J, Sun VZ, Shuster DL, Simon JI, Hurowitz JA, Moore KR, Scheller EL, Kizovski TV, Russell PS, Vasconcelos P, Tosca NJ, Beyssac O, Bosak T, Ehlmann BL, Mayhew LE, McLennan SM, Treiman AH, Wiens RC, Williford KH…Sharma S (48), et al. (2022) Aqueously altered igneous rocks on the floor of Jezero Crater, Mars. Science, doi: 10.1126/science.abo2196.
  9. Razzell Hollis J*, Moore KR*, Sharma S, Beegle LW, Grotzinger JP, Allwood A, Bhartia R, Brown AJ, Clark B, Cloutis E, Corpolongo A, Henneke J, Hickman-Lewis K, Hurowitz JA, Jones MWM, Liu Y, Martinez-Frias J, Pedersen DAK, Shkolyar S, Siljestrom S, Steele A, Tice M, Treiman A, Uckert K, Yanchilina A. (2022) The power of paired proximity science observations: co-located data from SHERLOC and PIXL on Mars (*joint first authors). Icarus, doi: 10.1016/j.icarus.2022.115179.
  10. 10.Fries MD, Lee C, Bhartia R, Razzell Hollis J, Uckert K, Beegle LW, Graff TG, Abbey W, Bailey Z, Berger EL, Burton AS, Callaway MJ, Cardarelli EL, Davis KN, DeFlores L, Edgett KS, Fox AC, Garrsion DH, Harrington RS, Jakubek RS, Kennedy MR, Hickman-Lewis K, McCubbin FM, Miller E, Monacelli B, Pollock R, Rhodes R, Sharma S, Smith CL, Steele A, Sylvia M, Tran VD, Weiner RH, Yanchilina A, Yingst RA. (2022) The SHERLOC Calibration Target on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover: Design, Operations, Outreach, and Future Human Exploration Functions. Space Science Reviews, doi: 10.1007/s11214-022-00907-1.
  11. 11.Sharma S, Meyer V. (2022) The Colors of Life: An interdisciplinary artist-in-residence project to research fungal pigments as a gateway to empathy and understanding of microbial life. Fungal Biology and Biotechnology 9:1, doi: 10.1186/s40694-021-00130-7.
  12. 12.Sharma S, Begue A, Doman J, Harfouche M, Horstmeyer G, Horstmeyer R. (2021) High Throughput Acquisition and Analysis of Bacterial Colony Features using Gigapixel Microscopy. OSA Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress 2021, paper JM4A.2. doi: 10.1364/AIS.2021.JM4A.2.
  13. 13.Smith RSH*, Bader C*, Sharma S*, Kolb D, Tang T, Hosny A, Moser F, Weaver JC, Voigt CA, Oxman N. (2020) Hybrid Living Materials: Digital Design and Fabrication of 3D Multimaterial Structures with Programmable Biohybrid Surfaces. Adv. Funct. Mater. 30: 1907401. doi: 10.1002/adfm.201907401. (*joint first authors)
  14. 14.Bader C, Kolb D, Weaver JC, Sharma S, Hosny A, Costa J, Oxman N. (2018) Making Data Matter – Voxel Printing for the Digital Fabrication of Data across Scales and Domains. Science Advances 4: 5 EAAS8652. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aas8652.
  15. 15.Bader C, Sharma S, Smith RSH, Disset J, Oxman N. (2018) Viva in Silico: A position-based dynamics model for microcolony morphology simulation. Artificial Life Conference Proceedings 30: 304-310. doi: 10.1162/isal_a_00060.
  16. 16.Sharma S, Oxman N. (2018) Correlative Computational Image Analysis of Blood Drop Drying Patterns. Microscopy and Microanalysis. 24(S1): 1296-1297. doi: 10.1017/S1431927618006967.
  17. 17.Keating SJ, Gariboldi MI, Patrick WG, Sharma S, Kong DS, Oxman N. (2016) 3D Printed Multimaterial Microfluidic Valve. PloS ONE 11(8): e0160624. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160624.
  18. 18.Bader C, Patrick WG, Kolb D, Hays SG, Keating S, Sharma S, Dikovsky D, Belocon B, Weaver JC, Silver PA, Oxman N. (2016) Grown, Printed, and Biologically Augmented: An Additively Manufactured Microfluidic Wearable, Functionally Templated for Synthetic Microbes. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 3(2): 79-89. doi: 10.1089/3dp.2016.0027.


Mars 2020