Ann Pearson, a professor of biogeochemistry in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, specializes in micro- and nanoscale analytical applications of light isotope geochemistry. Her research interests include the coevolution of microbes and their biochemical pathways, specifically in the context of historical changes in Earth’s surface environments. Recently, she has focused mainly on understanding the origins and uses of lipids as taxonomic molecular fossils, while also designing and implementing novel approaches to making natural-abundance isotopic measurements at the molecular level.
During her Radcliffe fellowship, Pearson will work to bring these analytical approaches together in a project to address the diversity of microbial metabolism in marine sediments. The sedimentary “deep biosphere” persists at the limits of energetic favorability and is an excellent target for nanoscale molecular isotopic analysis.
Pearson received her PhD in chemical oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, where she earned the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Award for the best dissertation in the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate. In 2004, she received a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.