Danielle Simkus

Danielle Simkus

  • POSTDOC RESEARCHER
  • 301.614.5887
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 691
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: CATHOLIC UNIV OF AMERICA
  • Brief Bio

    Dr. Danielle Simkus is a postdoctoral researcher in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Simkus' research focus is on investigating the soluble organic content of meteorites and other astromaterials. She primarily uses gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) techniques to characterize, quantify, and measure the stable isotopic and enantiomeric signatures of prebiotic organic molecules (e.g., aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, monocarboxylic acids, amino acids) in extraterrestrial samples. Her work aims to better understand the abiotic processes involved in the synthesis and preservation of prebiotic organic matter relevant to the origin of life.

    Positions/Employment

    2021 - Present

    Postdoctoral Research Associate

    CRESSTII / Catholic University of America, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    2018 - 2021

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow (NASA Postdoctoral Program)

    Universities Space Research Association, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    2014 - 2014

    Graduate Research Fellow

    Department of Mineral Sciences, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
    2010 - 2011

    Junior Research Scientist in Microbiology

    University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    2010 - 2011

    Microbiology Lab Technician

    University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    2009 - 2010

    Junior Research Scientist in Astrochemistry

    University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

    Education

    Ph.D. (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences - 2018) University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

    • Thesis: "The Prebiotic Synthesis of Soluble Organic Matter in Carbonaceous Chondrites and the Influence of Asteroidal Aqueous Alteration". Advisor: Dr. Christopher Herd

    M.Sc. (Earth and Environmental Sciences, Collaborative Graduate Program in Astrobiology - 2013) McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

    • Thesis: "Exploring Microbial Communities and Carbon Cycling within the Earth's Deep Terrestrial Subsurface". Advisor: Dr. Greg Slater

    B.Sc. (Double Major in Biological Sciences and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences - 2011) University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

    Professional Service

    • Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments (PCE3) Seminar Series Co-Organizer (2021 - Present)
    • OSIRIS-REx Science Team Collaborator (2020 - Present)
    • NASA Goddard Association of Postdoctoral Scholars (NGAPS+) Co-President (2019 - 2020), Advocacy Co-Officer (2020 - 2021), and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Subcommittee Member (2021)
    • Co-Founder and Co-Organizer of the NASA Goddard Early Career Scientist Spotlights (2020 - 2021)
    • NASA Goddard Early Career Scientist Forum, Organizing Committee Member (2019)
    • Executive Secretary and Panelist for proposal review panels (ROSES, FINESST, and NESSF) (2018 - Present)
    • Co-Founder and Co-Organizer of the Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series, University of Alberta (2015 - 2017)

    Awards

    • NASA Goddard Sciences and Exploration Directorate - Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity - Group Award (2021)
    • NASA Goddard Annual Code 690 Peer Award (2021)
    • NASA Goddard Code 690 Special Thanks and Recognition (STAR) Award (2021)
    • Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship (2016 – 2018)
    • Gordon A. McKay Award, The Meteoritical Society (2016)
    • Astromaterials Training and Research Opportunities (ASTRO) Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) Graduate Student Travel Award (2015)
    • Graduate Student Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (2014)
    • NASA-Nordic Astrobiology Winter School Scholar (2014)
    • President's Doctoral Prize of Distinction, University of Alberta (2013 – 2016)
    • NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (2013 – 2016)
    • University of Alberta Professional Development Award (2013)
    • NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) M.Sc. Fellowship (2011 – 2013)
    • Sao Paulo Advanced School of Astrobiology Scholar (2011)
    • NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (2009)
    • University of Alberta Entrance Scholarship for Academic Excellence (2006)

    Publications

    Refereed

    Smith, H. H., A. S. Hyde, D. N. Simkus, et al. E. Libby, S. E. Maurer, H. V. Graham, C. P. Kempes, B. Sherwood Lollar, L. Chou, A. D. Ellington, G. M. Fricke, P. R. Girguis, N. M. Grefenstette, C. I. Pozarycki, C. H. House, and S. S. Johnson. 2021. "The Grayness of the Origin of Life." Life, 11 (6): 498 [10.3390/life11060498]

    Glavin, D. P., H. L. McLain, J. P. Dworkin, et al. E. T. Parker, J. E. Elsila, J. C. Aponte, D. N. Simkus, C. I. Pozarycki, H. V. Graham, L. R. Nittler, and C. M. Alexander. 2020. "Abundant extraterrestrial amino acids in the primitive CM carbonaceous chondrite Asuka 12236." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 55 (9): 1979–2006 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1111/maps.13560]

    Aponte, J. C., H. L. McLain, D. N. Simkus, et al. J. E. Elsila, D. P. Glavin, E. T. Parker, J. P. Dworkin, D. H. Hill, H. C. Connolly, and D. S. Lauretta. 2020. "Extraterrestrial organic compounds and cyanide in the CM2 carbonaceous chondrites Aguas Zarcas and Murchison." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 55 (7): 1509-1524 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1111/maps.13531]

    Simkus, D., J. C. Aponte, J. E. Elsila, et al. E. T. Parker, D. P. Glavin, and J. P. Dworkin. 2019. "Methodologies for Analyzing Soluble Organic Compounds in Extraterrestrial Samples: Amino Acids, Amines, Monocarboxylic Acids, Aldehydes, and Ketones." Life, 9 (47): 30 pages [Full Text (Link)] [10.3390/life9020047]

    Simkus, D. N., J. C. Aponte, J. E. Elsila, et al. R. W. Hilts, H. L. McLain, and C. D. Herd. 2019. "New insights into the heterogeneity of the Tagish Lake meteorite: Soluble organic compositions of variously altered specimens." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54: 1283-1302 [10.1111/maps.13276]

    Simkus, D. N., J. C. Aponte, R. W. Hilts, J. E. Elsila, and C. D. Herd. 2019. "Compound-specific carbon isotope compositions of aldehydes and ketones in the Murchison meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54 (1): 142-156 [10.1111/maps.13202]

    Orata, F. D., A. R. Rosana, Y. Xu, et al. D. N. Simkus, A. R. Bramucci, Y. Boucher, and R. J. Case. 2016. "Draft Genome Sequences of Four Bacterial Strains Isolated from a Polymicrobial Culture of Naked (N-Type)Emiliania huxleyiCCMP1516: TABLE 1 ." Genome Announcements, 4 (4): e00674-16 [10.1128/genomea.00674-16]

    Rosana, A. R., F. D. Orata, Y. Xu, et al. D. N. Simkus, A. R. Bramucci, Y. Boucher, and R. J. Case. 2016. "Draft Genome Sequences of Seven Bacterial Strains Isolated from a Polymicrobial Culture of Coccolith-Bearing (C-Type)Emiliania huxleyiM217: TABLE 1 ." Genome Announcements, 4 (4): e00673-16 [10.1128/genomea.00673-16]

    Herd, C. D., R. W. Hilts, A. W. Skelhorne, and D. N. Simkus. 2016. "Cold curation of pristine astromaterials: Insights from the Tagish Lake meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51 (3): 499-519 [10.1111/maps.12603]

    Simkus, D. N., G. F. Slater, B. S. Lollar, et al. K. Wilkie, T. L. Kieft, C. Magnabosco, M. C. Lau, M. J. Pullin, S. B. Hendrickson, K. E. Wommack, E. G. Sakowski, E. V. Heerden, O. Kuloyo, B. Linage, G. Borgonie, and T. C. Onstott. 2016. "Variations in microbial carbon sources and cycling in the deep continental subsurface." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 173: 264-283 [10.1016/j.gca.2015.10.003]

    Hilts, R. W., C. D. Herd, D. N. Simkus, and G. F. Slater. 2014. "Soluble organic compounds in the Tagish Lake meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 49 (4): 526-549 [10.1111/maps.12272]

    Herd, C. D., A. Blinova, D. N. Simkus, et al. Y. Huang, R. Tarozo, C. M. Alexander, F. Gyngard, L. R. Nittler, G. D. Cody, M. L. Fogel, Y. Kebukawa, A. L. Kilcoyne, R. W. Hilts, G. F. Slater, D. P. Glavin, J. P. Dworkin, M. P. Callahan, J. E. Elsila, B. T. De Gregorio, and R. M. Stroud. 2011. "Origin and Evolution of Prebiotic Organic Matter As Inferred from the Tagish Lake Meteorite." Science, 332 (6035): 1304-1307 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1126/science.1203290]

    Herd, C., A. Blinova, D. N. Simkus, et al. Y. Huang, R. Tarozo, C.-D. Alexander, F. Gyngard, L. R. Nittler, G. D. Cody, M. L. Fogel, Y. Kebukawa, A. Kilcoyne, R. W. Hilts, G. F. Slater, D. P. Glavin, J. P. Dworkin, M. P. Callahan, J. E. Elsila, B. T. De Gregorio, and R. M. Stroud. 2011. "Origin and evolution of prebiotic organic matter as inferred from the Tagish Lake meteorite." Science, 332: 1304-1307 [10.1126/science.1203290]

    Brief Bio

    Dr. Danielle Simkus is a postdoctoral researcher in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Simkus' research focus is on investigating the soluble organic content of meteorites and other astromaterials. She primarily uses gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) techniques to characterize, quantify, and measure the stable isotopic and enantiomeric signatures of prebiotic organic molecules (e.g., aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, monocarboxylic acids, amino acids) in extraterrestrial samples. Her work aims to better understand the abiotic processes involved in the synthesis and preservation of prebiotic organic matter relevant to the origin of life.

    Publications

    Refereed

    Smith, H. H., A. S. Hyde, D. N. Simkus, et al. E. Libby, S. E. Maurer, H. V. Graham, C. P. Kempes, B. Sherwood Lollar, L. Chou, A. D. Ellington, G. M. Fricke, P. R. Girguis, N. M. Grefenstette, C. I. Pozarycki, C. H. House, and S. S. Johnson. 2021. "The Grayness of the Origin of Life." Life 11 (6): 498 [10.3390/life11060498]

    Glavin, D. P., H. L. McLain, J. P. Dworkin, et al. E. T. Parker, J. E. Elsila, J. C. Aponte, D. N. Simkus, C. I. Pozarycki, H. V. Graham, L. R. Nittler, and C. M. Alexander. 2020. "Abundant extraterrestrial amino acids in the primitive CM carbonaceous chondrite Asuka 12236." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55 (9): 1979–2006 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1111/maps.13560]

    Aponte, J. C., H. L. McLain, D. N. Simkus, et al. J. E. Elsila, D. P. Glavin, E. T. Parker, J. P. Dworkin, D. H. Hill, H. C. Connolly, and D. S. Lauretta. 2020. "Extraterrestrial organic compounds and cyanide in the CM2 carbonaceous chondrites Aguas Zarcas and Murchison." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 55 (7): 1509-1524 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1111/maps.13531]

    Simkus, D., J. C. Aponte, J. E. Elsila, et al. E. T. Parker, D. P. Glavin, and J. P. Dworkin. 2019. "Methodologies for Analyzing Soluble Organic Compounds in Extraterrestrial Samples: Amino Acids, Amines, Monocarboxylic Acids, Aldehydes, and Ketones." Life 9 (47): 30 pages [Full Text (Link)] [10.3390/life9020047]

    Simkus, D. N., J. C. Aponte, J. E. Elsila, et al. R. W. Hilts, H. L. McLain, and C. D. Herd. 2019. "New insights into the heterogeneity of the Tagish Lake meteorite: Soluble organic compositions of variously altered specimens." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 54 1283-1302 [10.1111/maps.13276]

    Simkus, D. N., J. C. Aponte, R. W. Hilts, J. E. Elsila, and C. D. Herd. 2019. "Compound-specific carbon isotope compositions of aldehydes and ketones in the Murchison meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 54 (1): 142-156 [10.1111/maps.13202]

    Orata, F. D., A. R. Rosana, Y. Xu, et al. D. N. Simkus, A. R. Bramucci, Y. Boucher, and R. J. Case. 2016. "Draft Genome Sequences of Four Bacterial Strains Isolated from a Polymicrobial Culture of Naked (N-Type)Emiliania huxleyiCCMP1516: TABLE 1 ." Genome Announcements 4 (4): e00674-16 [10.1128/genomea.00674-16]

    Rosana, A. R., F. D. Orata, Y. Xu, et al. D. N. Simkus, A. R. Bramucci, Y. Boucher, and R. J. Case. 2016. "Draft Genome Sequences of Seven Bacterial Strains Isolated from a Polymicrobial Culture of Coccolith-Bearing (C-Type)Emiliania huxleyiM217: TABLE 1 ." Genome Announcements 4 (4): e00673-16 [10.1128/genomea.00673-16]

    Herd, C. D., R. W. Hilts, A. W. Skelhorne, and D. N. Simkus. 2016. "Cold curation of pristine astromaterials: Insights from the Tagish Lake meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 51 (3): 499-519 [10.1111/maps.12603]

    Simkus, D. N., G. F. Slater, B. S. Lollar, et al. K. Wilkie, T. L. Kieft, C. Magnabosco, M. C. Lau, M. J. Pullin, S. B. Hendrickson, K. E. Wommack, E. G. Sakowski, E. V. Heerden, O. Kuloyo, B. Linage, G. Borgonie, and T. C. Onstott. 2016. "Variations in microbial carbon sources and cycling in the deep continental subsurface." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 173 264-283 [10.1016/j.gca.2015.10.003]

    Hilts, R. W., C. D. Herd, D. N. Simkus, and G. F. Slater. 2014. "Soluble organic compounds in the Tagish Lake meteorite." Meteoritics & Planetary Science 49 (4): 526-549 [10.1111/maps.12272]

    Herd, C. D., A. Blinova, D. N. Simkus, et al. Y. Huang, R. Tarozo, C. M. Alexander, F. Gyngard, L. R. Nittler, G. D. Cody, M. L. Fogel, Y. Kebukawa, A. L. Kilcoyne, R. W. Hilts, G. F. Slater, D. P. Glavin, J. P. Dworkin, M. P. Callahan, J. E. Elsila, B. T. De Gregorio, and R. M. Stroud. 2011. "Origin and Evolution of Prebiotic Organic Matter As Inferred from the Tagish Lake Meteorite." Science 332 (6035): 1304-1307 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1126/science.1203290]

    Herd, C., A. Blinova, D. N. Simkus, et al. Y. Huang, R. Tarozo, C.-D. Alexander, F. Gyngard, L. R. Nittler, G. D. Cody, M. L. Fogel, Y. Kebukawa, A. Kilcoyne, R. W. Hilts, G. F. Slater, D. P. Glavin, J. P. Dworkin, M. P. Callahan, J. E. Elsila, B. T. De Gregorio, and R. M. Stroud. 2011. "Origin and evolution of prebiotic organic matter as inferred from the Tagish Lake meteorite." Science 332 1304-1307 [10.1126/science.1203290]

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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