Lynn J. Rothschild
Lynn Justine Rothschild
|Alma mater||Yale University, Indiana University, Brown University|
|Known for||Extremophiles at NASA|
|Institutions||NASA’s Ames Research Center, Brown, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz|
Lynn Justine Rothschild (born May 11, 1957) is an evolutionary biologist and astrobiologist at NASA's Ames Research Center, and was a consulting Professor at Stanford University, where she taught Astrobiology and Space Exploration. She is an adjunct professor at Brown University. At Ames, her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both on Earth and potentially beyond our planet's boundaries. Since 2007 she has studied the effect of UV radiation on DNA synthesis, carbon metabolism and mutation/DNA repair in the Rift Valley of Kenya and the Bolivian Andes, and also in high altitude experiments atop Mt. Everest, in balloon payloads with BioLaunch. Currently she is the principal investigator of a synthetic biology payload on an upcoming satellite mission.
Rothschild's research focus is in two main areas: astrobiology and synthetic biology. Rothschild has studied carbon metabolism and DNA damage and repair in the laboratory setting and on algae, work that has taken her to field sites in such locations as the thermal areas in Yellowstone National Park, New Zealand, Australia, Kenya's Rift Valley, hypersaline environments in the San Francisco Bay, Baja California and the Bolivian Andes. Her current lab members are actively pursuing topics ranging from a protein-first model to algae and synthetic biology. She has taken to the air in conjunction with the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at Stanford and Mavericks Civilian Rocket Foundation, flying experiments up to 106,000 feet (32 km) on high altitude balloons. Courtesy of the Galathea 3, she has also had experiments on a Danish oceanographic cruise from South America to Copenhagen.
Rothschild has been instrumental in developing the field of astrobiology. She founded and ran the first three Astrobiology Science Conferences (AbSciCon), was the founding co-editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology, and is the former director of the Astrobiology Strategic Analysis and Support Office for NASA. She has been a member of the Astrobiology Institute since its inception.
Rothschild has served as the NASA representative to the OSTP Working Group on Synthetic Biology and has been the faculty advisor to the award-winning Brown-Stanford 2011 (“Mars BioTools: Synthetic Biology for Space Exploration”), and Stanford-Brown 2012 (“Synthetic Astrobiology”) and 2013 (“Synthetic BioCommunication”) iGEM teams, and the 2014 Stanford-Brown-Spelman team (“Towards a biodegradable UAV”). Current work ranges from producing one-atom thick wires to a biodegradable UAV, as well as biomining, and a synthetic biology approach to the origin of life.
Rothschild lectures frequently worldwide, including at the Vatican and Windsor Castle, Mystic Seaport and the Royal Society of London. Rothschild's lecture at the annual Molecular Frontiers Symposium at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, May 2013, "Life in Extreme Environments and the Search for Life in the Universe" can be viewed online. She appears frequently on radio and television programs, including the BBC, NPR, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, ABC World News Tonight, and the History Channel and most recently on Morgan Freeman’s "Through the Wormhole" on the Science Channel. Rothschild is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and also a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Explorers Club.
- Horace Mann Medal, Brown University
- Isaac Asimov Award, American Humanist Association
- Profile for Solar System Exploration
- Astrobiology and Space Exploration
- Profile at Brown
- Course Lectures Winter 2010 on Stanford iTunes
- on YouTube
- on YouTube Part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series
- on YouTube Motherboard, 2017