Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann

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Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann (November 23, 1937 – September 4, 2005) was a Filipino-American microbiologist and botanist who specialized in the study of cyanobacteria and extremophiles. Her work has been cited in work exploring the terraforming of Mars.


Ocampo-Friedmann was born Roseli Ocampo on November 23, 1937 in Manila, Philippines to Eliseo and Generosa Ocampo.[1]

She earned a degree in botany from the University of the Philippines in 1958. After completing her master's at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1966, she returned to the Philippines to work for Manila's National Institute of Science and Technology.[2] In 1968, she joined Dr. Imre Friedmann at Florida State University where she received her PhD in 1973. Roseli married Friedmann in 1974.[3] In 1987, she became a professor at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, while working summers at Florida State University with Friedmann.[1][4] Later in her career, she served as a scientific consultant for the SETI Institute.

Together with her husband, the couple traveled internationally to study algae and other microorganisms. In the mid-1970s, the couple went to the Ross Desert in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, where the mountain ranges were thought to be lifeless they were a frigid, arid area mostly without ice or snow. These micoorganisms (called cryptoendoliths) would tolerate the cold and in the summer thaw, rehydrate, and photosynthesize, and were able to colonize the Beacon sandstone. After successfully culturing them in the laboratory with her "blue-green thumb", the couple wrote an article detailing their discovery on September 24, 1976. This work was cited by NASA and Walter Cronkite as the basis for life on Mars when the Viking 1 spacecraft touched down on the planet on July 20, 1976 as the planet has similar conditions.[1][5][6]

Friedmann Peak, in the Darwin Mountains of Antarctica, where she co-discovered endolithic microorganisms in the Beacon sandstone, is named after her.[2][4] The National Science Foundation awarded her the Antarctic Service Medal in 1981.[7]

During her lifetime, she collected over 1,000 types of microorganisms from extreme environments around the world.[1] Ocampo-Friedmann died September 4, 2005, of Parkinson's disease in Kirkland, Washington.[2][4]


  1. ^ a b c d Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007-01-01). Encyclopedia of World Scientists. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438118826. 
  2. ^ a b c "In Memoriam Dr. Roseli Ocampo Friedmann". The Florida State University, Department of Biological Science. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007). "Ocampo-Friedmann, Roseli". Encyclopedia of World Scientists (Rev. ed.). New York: Facts on File. p. 553. ISBN 978-1-4381-1882-6. 
  4. ^ a b c "Roseli Ocampo Friedmann - FSU Biological Science Courtesy Faculty Emeritus". Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places |". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  6. ^ "The Times-News - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  7. ^ Yount, Lisa (2007). A to Z of Women in Science and Math (Rev. ed.). New York: Infobase Pub. pp. 231–232. ISBN 978-1-4381-0795-0.