Woodward Fischer, Ph.D.

Professor of Geobiology, Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of TechnologyWoodward Fischer’s website

SCOL Project: Understanding the Chemistry of Early Earth Subaerial Environments

There has been sustained effort from geologists to interrogate the early rock record; this has focused on marine rocks. Here we propose to study subaerial deposits — deposits that were exposed to, and interacted with, the atmosphere, and capture the processes and chemistry occurring in drier environments: rivers, floodplains, wind-blown dunes, and small bodies of water that episodically accumulated between dunes. Rocks from such environments in the early sedimentary rock record are exceedingly rare — but they do exist. We will investigate these rocks and use these observations to directly test and strengthen environmental chemistry concepts developed in the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life.

Woodward Fischer holds a B.A. from Colorado College and a Ph.D. from Harvard. Dr. Fischer is often called by his nickname, Woody. His research generally falls in the discipline of geobiology — combining techniques from field geology, analytical chemistry, and biology — to understand and explore the relationships between life and Earth surface environments through diverse and fundamental transitions in Earth history.

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