Faculty promotions

The Executive Committee of the Corporation has approved the promotion of Tanja Bosak to Full Professor effective July 1, 2020.

A geobiologist, Bosak is interested in the evolution of microbial life in low-oxygen environments typical for the early Earth (and perhaps other planets) and how the biosphere has evolved and interacted with the chemical makeup of Earth’s surface by producing organic carbon and biogenic gases or catalyzing mineral formation and dissolution. Her research program is at the forefront of a new wave in geobiology focused on the role of microbes in co-evolving systems and integrating molecular biology, biochemistry, and earth sciences. This is yielding new insights and constraints on everything from sedimentation to the rise of atmospheric oxygen.

Some of Bosak’s recent work has found an alternative explanation for manganese oxidation thought to signal the presence and rise of oxygen prior to the Great Oxidation Event. Additionally, she’s replicated the formation of the mineral dolomite, which captured fine microbial textures formed in ancient marine environments. In the near future, Bosak will be applying her knowledge of fossilization to the Mars 2020 mission, where she is co-leader of the Returned Sample Science team which will select which samples the Perseverance rover will take from the Jezero crater looking for signs of life, and was also named to the Mars 2020 Project Science Group, a leadership council that helps define and refine science goals and strategies of the mission across multiple Mars rover teams.

Tanja Bosak joined the faculty in 2007 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. She holds a PhD in Geobiology from California Institute of Technology. She is Chair of the Program in Geology, Geobiology, and Geochemistry.