Post-Doctoral Fellows

Anders Albertsen

Anders Albertsen

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Perez-Mercader Lab, Rowland Institute

Anders N. Albertsen studied Chemistry at the Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) under the supervision of Assoc. Prof.  Pierre-Alain Monnard.  The Ph.D. thesis, "Study of Replication Processes in Minimal Self-Replicating Systems", was defended in December 2013. Anders joined the Perez-Mercader group in February 2014.

Research interests: Self-Assembly, Vesicles, Micelles, Reverse Micelles, Nanoreactors, Reactivity of Membranes, Membrane Coupled Reactions, Encapsulated Reactions, Compartmentalization of Living Systems, the Origin of Life, and Synthetic Biology.

Jia Chen

Jia Chen

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Wofsy

Jia Chen joined Prof. Wofsy’s group in Aug. 2011 with a research interest in urban greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions. She works on a method to determine the rates of emissions in cities by measuring the column-averaged gas concentration in the atmosphere, using the sun as light source. This work involves development of compact, mobile, sun-tracking Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR), atmospheric modeling using mesoscale models (e.g., WRF-GHG), and network design.

Jia Chen received her PhD in electrical engineering at Technische Universität München (Prof. Amann's group) in collaboration with Siemens. She developed hand-held laser-based gas sensors for industrial/household applications, with a focus on modeling of surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL), in-fiber based gas sensing, and efficient signal evaluation. She also worked on transmission method (CDMA) for Powerline Communication System in automobiles for her diploma thesis at Universität Karlsruhe. She is a recipient of the Graduate Student Fellowship Award of IEEE, ITG award of the German EE society VDE and holds several patents related to her PhD and Diploma work.

(617) 496-6247
Ben Cowie

Ben Cowie

Post-doctoral Fellow
Johnston

Ben is an isotope geochemist with diverse interests in the Earth sciences. In the Johnston Group, he is currently exploring questions surrounding the evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere over the most recent billion years of Earth history using a triple-oxygen isotope approach.

Ben received his Ph.D. from the University of Calgary in 2013 for developing a novel stable isotope approach for characterizing oil sands reservoir fluids, and was awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for his work. From 2002 to 2008 he attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada where he earned B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Earth and Environmental Sciences. His research during this time focused on compound-specific isotope analysis of lipid biomarkers with application to environmental remediation and monitoring. From 2006 to 2010 Ben was part of the Pavilion Lake Research Project team, a NASA Exploration Analog site, and an international collaborative research project. The project provides insight into the earliest life on Earth, and aims to change the way humans explore outer space.

857-253-1263
Vivien Cumming

Vivien Cumming

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Johnston
Macdonald

Viv received her PhD from Durham University in the UK for developing the use of Re-Os  radioisotope geochronology in ancient lacustrine sediments and assessing rhenium and osmium systematics in organic matter and oils. This research involved evaluating the weathering and redox evolution of organic-rich sedimentary rocks deposited in the Mesoproterozoic and Eocene. A subsequent post-doctoral position at Durham University used osmium isotopes to evaluate the Paleoproterozoic Great Oxidation Event. Viv’s research interests surround understanding the causes of major evolutionary steps and climatic transitions. She was awarded a Lindermann Trust Fellowship to work at Harvard on Archean to Paleoproterozoic rocks using multiple sulfur isotopes and osmium isotopes to evaluate the oxygenation history of the atmosphere and oceans and the co-evolution of the biosphere and geosphere at this time.

857-498-4910
Matthew Egbert

Matthew Egbert

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Perez-Mercader Lab, Rowland Institute

Matthew Egbert received a BSc in Computer Science from St Andrews University, UK, before undertaking a MSc in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems at the University of Sussex, UK, where he also earned his PhD.Since receiving his doctorate, he has worked in unconventional computing, robotics, and developing computational models of adaptive systems. 

Research interests: minimal forms of life and cognition; viability of dissipative structures; adaptive behavior; analysis and computational modelling of complex systems; the origins of life.

David Ferguson

David Ferguson

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Langmuir

David is an igneous geochemist and volcanologist who uses the chemistry of lavas to understand different process in magmatic systems. He is currently a member of Charles Langmuir’s research group, working on links between volcanism and glacial cycles in volcanic arcs.

He completed his MSc at University College London and PhD at the University of Oxford, where he worked on magmatism associated with continental rifting in Ethiopia. Before joining the Langmuir group David was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York.  He is broadly interested in exploring links between magmatic activity and other tectonic and climatic processes. Previous and ongoing projects include work on volcanic activity in Ethiopia, Chile and Hawaii. David’s research at Harvard is focused on geochemical and geochronological studies of volcanism in the Cascades, which involves collaborative work with scientists from the U.S Geological Survey.  

Jean-Sebastien Gagnon

Jean-Sebastien Gagnon

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Perez-Mercader Lab, Rowland Institute

Jean-Sebastien received his Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics from McGill University in 2007, where he worked on computing transport coefficients in high temperature gauge field theories under the supervision of Prof. Sangyong Jeon. 

After his Ph.D. he joined the group of Prof. Mikhail Shaposhnikov as a postdoc at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausannne to conduct research on baryogenesis.  He later went for another postdoc in the group of Prof. Juergen Berges at TU Darmstadt (and later Heidelberg University), where he worked on non-equilibrium quantum field theory, transport coefficients and dark energy.  A common theme of Jean-Sebastien's research is (equilibrium and non-equilibrium) field theory applied to problems in particle physics and cosmology.  He is now applying field theory to chemical systems of the reaction-diffusion type that mimic some aspects of living systems in the group of Prof. Juan Perez-Mercader.  More specifically, he is applying dynamical renormalization group techniques to the study of fine-graining of those reaction-diffusion equations in search of clues of their internal mechanisms and functions.

Maya Gomes

Maya Gomes

Visiting NASA NAI Post-Doctoral Fellow
Johnston

Maya is interested in how the cycling of elements through the ocean and atmosphere regulates climate and habitability. Specifically, she focuses on how the sulfur cycle interacts with the carbon, oxygen, and nutrient element cycles. She compares patterns of biogeochemical cycling in time periods when marine sulfate levels were low, like they were on the early Earth, to periods when marine sulfate levels were high, like they are in the modern ocean. Maya approaches this topic by studying both modern and ancient systems over a range of sulfate concentrations. Currently, she holds a NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship in which she is evaluating how storm induced changes to water column chemistry in coastal lakes affects microbial ecology and how evidence of these changes are preserved in the geologic record. In doing this work, Maya aims to improve models for the evolution of the marine sulfate reservoir through time, which has implications for the evolution of the Earth’s early biosphere as well how environmental conditions affect the biosphere since the development of multicellular life on Earth.

Carling Hay

Carling Hay

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Mitrovica

Carling joined the Mitrovica group in the summer of 2012 after receiving her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Toronto. One of the main goals of Carling’s work is to answer the important climatological question:  what are the various contributors to the observed changes in sea level?  Her research focuses on using statistical techniques to better understand global mean sea level during current and past warm periods, and to develop the tools necessary to extract source information from historical sea-level records.  Understanding how past sea level has changed in response to rising surface temperatures is a critical step in our ability to predict sea-level rise into the next century and beyond.

Nagissa Mahmoudi

Nagissa Mahmoudi

Post-Doctoral Fellow
Pearson

Nagissa is broadly interested in microbial degradation of organic compounds including anthropogenic pollutants as well as natural organic matter. Nagissa completed her  B.Sc. in Integrative Biology from the University of Toronto in Canada. Subsequently, she earned her PhD at McMaster University in Canada where she employed a variety of tools, ranging from isotope geochemistry to high throughput sequencing, to investigate microbial communities in petroleum impacted environments. This research involved assessing microbial carbon sources using natural abundance radiocarbon analysis of lipid biomarkers and subsequently linking degradation to specific taxonomic groups. 

Prior to joining Ann Pearson's research group, Nagissa was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Tenensee Knoxville where she investigated the biodegradation potential of native microbial communities in deep sea basins. Nagissa was awarded an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship to work at Harvard to investigate factors that constrain microbial carbon cycling in marine sediments.