The MUSE team advances an innovative and empirical scientific approach rooted in the experimental reconstruction of ancient life from the genomic record, constrained by the data-driven reconstruction of ancient environments from the geologic record. To that end, the project brings together life and Earth scientists who are experts in experiments and analytical innovation.

Core Team

Dr. Betül Kaçar

Dr. Betül Kaçar

Lead Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Steward Observatory and Astronomy, Lunar & Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona

Expertise: Molecular paleobiology, Protein evolution, Synthetic biology

Ariel headshot

Dr. Ariel Anbar

Deputy PI / Co-I

President’s Professor, Arizona State University

Expertise: Geochemistry/Earth evolution

Sky Dominguez Headshot

Sky Dominguez, M.Sc.

Project Coordinator, University of Arizona

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Dr. Anne E. Dekas


Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Expertise: Deep-sea microbiology and biogeochemistry

Amanda Garcia headshot

Dr. Amanda Garcia


NASA Astrobiology Fellow, University of Arizona

Expertise: Paleobiology

Giovanna Ghirlanda headshot

Dr. Giovana Ghirlanda


Professor, Arizona State University

Expertise: Protein design, metalloproteins

John Kececioglu heashot

Dr. John Kececioglu


Professor of Computer Science, University of Arizona

Expertise: Algorithms for biological sequence analysis

 kurt Konhauser headshot

Dr. Kurt Konhauser


Professor and Associate Chair, University of Alberta

Expertise: Geobiology

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Dr. Joanna Masel


Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona

Expertise: Protein evolution

Dr. Stephen Romaniello photo

Dr. Stephen Romaniello


Associate Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Expertise: Isotope geochemistry

William Seyfried headshot

Dr. William E. Seyfried, Jr.


Professor, University of Minnesota

Expertise: Aqueous Geochemistry

Elizabeth Swanner headshot

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Swanner


Associate Professor, Iowa State University

Expertise: Geomicrobiology

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Dr. Lance Seefeldt


Department Head and Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Utah State University

Expertise: Nitrogen fixation


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Dr. Dennis Dean

Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech

Expertise: Metalloenzymes

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Dr. Aleisha Johnson

NSF EAR Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago

Expertise: Isotope Geochemistry

Sebastian Kopf headshot

Dr. Sebastian Kopf

Assistant Professor of Geomicrobiology, University of Colorado, Boulder

Expertise: isotopic biosignatures, microbial physiology, and continuous culture

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Chadlin M. Ostrander headshot

Dr. Chadlin M. Ostrander

Postdoc Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Expertise: Isotope and trace metal geochemistry

Science Advisory Board

Dr. Roger Buick

Professor, University of Washington

Dr. Alison Butler

Professor, UC Santa Barbara

Dr. Colleen Cavanaugh

Professor, Harvard University

Dr. Andy Knoll

Professor, Harvard University

Dr. Frank Rosenzweig

Professor, Georgia Tech

Dr. Dawn Sumner

Professor, UC Davis