The Open University
Biogeomicrobiology of Hydrothermal Systems
Dr. Karen Olsson-Francis
My PhD project aims to characterize two different hydrothermal environments, one in Ethiopia and another in Portugal. By examining the microbial communities and how they interact with the minerals occurring in their immediate vicinity, I hope to gain a better understanding of the potential biosignatures that should be investigated in the search for life on Mars. This PhD project combines geology and microbiology.
What inspires you
I developed an interest in the natural world at a very young age as I traveled extensively with my parents and was particularly inspired by Table Mountain in Cape Town
I studied a BSc (Honours) in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh
Why did you choose doctoral research?
I really like the idea of having both ownership of my project and the freedom to adjust towards to my interest.
Why did you choose CENTA?
The CENTA program is a collaborative initiative which I think it vital for the success of interesting science projects. I think it is important to be readily connected to other researchers that are working in related fields and may have a different perspective on how to tackle the challenges I may face throughout my project.
I certainly see myself continuing in the academic field and aim to become a professor at some point in the future. Additionally, I hope to do some consultancy work for organizations such as ESA, NASA, or SpaceX sometime in the future.