Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry


Prof. Rothschild is an astrobiologist/ synthetic biologist at NASA Ames specializing in molecular approaches to evolution, particularly in microbes, and the application of synthetic biology to NASA's mission. With a foundation in protistology and evolution, research interests include the early evolution of life, life in extreme environments and the search for life in the universe. In 2008 she established a program in synthetic biology for NASA and represented the Agency on the OSTP synthetic biology working group. Flight experience includes high altitude ballooning for astrobiology, the PI on the PowerCell payload on DLR’s Eu:CROPIS satellite (launched December 2018), and Co-I on ESA’s BIOMEX experiment on ISS. Extensive outreach including lectures worldwide, documentaries and a TEDx talk. Teaching experience includes “Astrobiology and Space Exploration”, Stanford, 2004-13  (, directing theses (current Ph.D. students from Columbia, TU Delft, and UC Santa Cruz, ), and the faculty advisor of the award-winning Brown-Stanford iGEM team. iGEM projects included synthetic biology for Mars Exploration (2011), Synthetic biology for astrobiology, including biomining (2012), Synthetic biocommunication (2013), Towards a Biodegradable UAS (2014),  BiOrigami (2015) for which the team won "Best Manufacturing", and "BioBalloon" (2016) for which the team won "Best Measurement" and runner up for "Best Manufacturing", “Mars: getting there and staying there” (2017), Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM team, “Myco for Mars” (2018) for which the team was the runner up for the best new composite part and for best in manufacturing. In 2019 we joined forces wtih Princeton to form the Brown-Stanford-Princeton team, which won the iGEMers Prize. During the pandemic, Prof. Rothschild is supervising students remotely.

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