Dr. Carina Lee
Dr. Carina Lee is interested in the composition and binding (both timing and nature) of insoluble macromolecular organic matter — a matrix of unconsolidated kerogen that forms during early diagenesis. Its complex structure has precluded conventional analyses, although a combination of selective chemical and thermal degradation methods as well as advances in analytical technology have significantly improved our understanding of this important repository of organic matter. Broadly, her research interests lie in how organic molecules bound into complex macromolecular matrices can inform us about past, present, and future biological activity on Earth and other planetary bodies.
Previously Dr. Lee has investigated organic matter composition using lipid biomarkers and stable isotopes in Proterozoic, Paleozoic, and modern marine and hypersaline environments, some of which are analogues of conditions on early Earth.
At NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES), Dr. Lee is investigating the composition of insoluble organic matter in carbonaceous chondrites and well as the effect of impact on amino acid composition to gain insights into prebiotic chemistry and the origins of life.