Lynn Rothschild Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry

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, 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, Oxford, UC Santa Cruz, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Tokyo Tech), and the faculty advisor of the award-winning Stanford-Brown 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), and BiOrigami (2015) for which the team won "Best Manufacturing". Through EON postdoctoral fellow Kosuke Fujishima, she is a member of the ELSI (Earth Life Science) Institute, Japan.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

research overview

Rothschild's research focuses on how life, particularly microbes, evolved in the context of the physical environment, here and possibly elsewhere. She studies photosynthesis and DNA damage and repair in the lab and in field sites including Yellowstone, Australia, Kenya, the SF Bay, Baja and Andes. Lab members study UV resistance, synthetic biology, snow algae and aerobiology. She has flown experiments in balloons with Stanford, and rockets. Synthetic biology in support of NASA is a new focus.