Heather Valeah Graham

Heather Valeah Graham

  • RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
  • 301.614.5490
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 691
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: CATHOLIC UNIV OF AMERICA
  • Brief Bio

    Heather Graham is an organic geochemist with a profound curiosity about the natural world, the history of life, the vast connections between biotic and abiotic systems, and what evolution can tell us about our future. Her research focuses on the fundamental scientific development of tools and techniques that can help us identify “agnostic biosignatures” – evidence of living systems that may not share common biochemistry with life on Earth. Life detection methods that do not presuppose a common heritage with life on Earth are becoming more important as we travel farther out in the solar system and may even help us understand novel life deep in the earth where potential ecosystems have been out of communication with the surface of the planet for billions of years. With a diverse background in biology, analytical chemistry, paleontology, and statistical modeling, Graham combines her expertise in the expression and preservation of chemical biosignatures with an understanding of the constraints of space flight instrumentation.

    Education

    Ph.D, Geosciences & Biogeochemistry, The Pennsylvania State University 2014

    Thesis Title: Molecular and isotopic indicators of canopy closure in ancient forests and the effects of environmental gradients on leaf alkane expression

    Graduate Advisor: Kate Freeman, The Pennsylvania State University
    Co-advisors: Lee Kump, The Pennsylvania State University & Scott Wing, Smithsonian Institution

    A.B., cum laude, Chemistry, Occidental College 2007

    Awards

    Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Fellowship 2019 – 2024
    NASA Postdoctoral Program Research Fellowship 2013 – 2016
    MSL Curiosity Rover Sample Analysis at Mars Research Fellowship 2013 – 2014
     

    Publications

    Refereed

    Johnson, S. S., M. Millan, H. Graham, et al. K. C. Benison, A. J. Williams, A. McAdam, C. A. Knudson, S. Andrejkovičová, and C. Achilles. 2020. "Lipid Biomarkers in Ephemeral Acid Salt Lake Mudflat/Sandflat Sediments: Implications for Mars." Astrobiology, 20 (2): 167-178 [10.1089/ast.2017.1812]

    Graham, H. V., F. Herrera, C. Jaramillo, S. L. Wing, and K. H. Freeman. 2019. "Canopy structure in Late Cretaceous and Paleocene forests as reconstructed from carbon isotope analyses of fossil leaves." Geology, 47 (10): 977-981 [10.1130/g46152.1]

    Dworkin, J. P., L. A. Adelman, T. Ajluni, et al. A. V. Andronikov, J. C. Aponte, A. E. Bartels, E. Beshore, E. B. Bierhaus, J. R. Brucato, B. H. Bryan, A. S. Burton, M. P. Callahan, S. L. Castro-Wallace, B. C. Clark, S. J. Clemett, H. C. Connolly, W. E. Cutlip, S. M. Daly, V. E. Elliott, J. E. Elsila, H. L. Enos, D. F. Everett, I. A. Franchi, D. P. Glavin, H. V. Graham, J. E. Hendershot, J. W. Harris, S. L. Hill, A. R. Hildebrand, G. O. Jayne, R. W. Jenkens, K. S. Johnson, J. S. Kirsch, D. S. Lauretta, A. S. Lewis, J. J. Loiacono, C. C. Lorentson, J. R. Marshall, M. G. Martin, L. L. Matthias, H. L. McLain, S. R. Messenger, R. G. Mink, J. L. Moore, K. Nakamura-Messenger, J. A. Nuth, C. V. Owens, C. L. Parish, B. D. Perkins, M. S. Pryzby, C. A. Reigle, K. Righter, B. Rizk, J. F. Russell, S. A. Sandford, J. P. Schepis, J. Songer, M. F. Sovinski, S. E. Stahl, K. Thomas-Keprta, J. M. Vellinga, and M. S. Walker. 2018. "OSIRIS-REx Contamination Control Strategy and Implementation." Space Science Reviews, 214 (1): 19 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1007/s11214-017-0439-4]

    Johnson, S. S., E. V. Anslyn, H. V. Graham, P. R. Mahaffy, and A. D. Ellington. 2018. "Fingerprinting Non-Terran Biosignatures." Astrobiology, 18 (7): 915-922 [10.1089/ast.2017.1712]

    Hays, L. E., H. V. Graham, D. J. Des Marais, et al. E. M. Hausrath, B. Horgan, T. M. McCollom, M. N. Parenteau, S. L. Potter-McIntyre, A. J. Williams, and K. L. Lynch. 2017. "Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments." Astrobiology, 17 (4): 363-400 [10.1089/ast.2016.1627]

    Kennett, D. J., I. Hajdas, B. J. Culleton, et al. S. Belmecheri, S. Martin, H. Neff, J. Awe, H. V. Graham, K. H. Freeman, L. Newsom, D. L. Lentz, F. S. Anselmetti, M. Robinson, N. Marwan, J. Southon, D. A. Hodell, and G. H. Haug. 2014. "Correlating the ancient Maya and modern European calendars with high-precision AMS 14C dating." Nature Scientific Reports, 3: 1597-1601 [10.1038/srep01597]

    Graham, H. V., M. E. Patzkowsky, S. W. Wing, et al. G. G. Parker, M. L. Fogel, and K. H. Freeman. 2014. "Isotopic characteristics of canopies in simulated leaf assemblages. ." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 144: 82-95 [10.1016/j.gca.2014.08.032]

    Graham, H. V., E. D. Church, and C. H. House. 2013. "Packing for another planet: Learning scientific methodology through alternative reality gaming." Proceedings of the 9th Games, Learning and Society Conference, http://press.etc.cmu.edu/content/gameslearningsociety-conference-proceedings: ISBN: ISSN 2164-6651 .

    Diefendorf, A. F., K. H. Freeman, S. W. Wing, and H. V. Graham. 2011. "Production of n-alkyl lipids in living plants and implications for the geologic past. ." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75 (23): 7472-7485 [10.1016/j.gca.2011.09.028]

    Jahren, A. H., M. C. Byrne, H. V. Graham, L. S. Sternberg, and R. E. Summons. 2009. "The environmental water of the middle Eocene Arctic: Evidence from δD, δ18O and δ13C within specific compounds." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology , 271 (1-2): 96-103 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.09.016]

    Brief Bio

    Heather Graham is an organic geochemist with a profound curiosity about the natural world, the history of life, the vast connections between biotic and abiotic systems, and what evolution can tell us about our future. Her research focuses on the fundamental scientific development of tools and techniques that can help us identify “agnostic biosignatures” – evidence of living systems that may not share common biochemistry with life on Earth. Life detection methods that do not presuppose a common heritage with life on Earth are becoming more important as we travel farther out in the solar system and may even help us understand novel life deep in the earth where potential ecosystems have been out of communication with the surface of the planet for billions of years. With a diverse background in biology, analytical chemistry, paleontology, and statistical modeling, Graham combines her expertise in the expression and preservation of chemical biosignatures with an understanding of the constraints of space flight instrumentation.

    Publications

    Refereed

    Johnson, S. S., M. Millan, H. Graham, et al. K. C. Benison, A. J. Williams, A. McAdam, C. A. Knudson, S. Andrejkovičová, and C. Achilles. 2020. "Lipid Biomarkers in Ephemeral Acid Salt Lake Mudflat/Sandflat Sediments: Implications for Mars." Astrobiology 20 (2): 167-178 [10.1089/ast.2017.1812]

    Graham, H. V., F. Herrera, C. Jaramillo, S. L. Wing, and K. H. Freeman. 2019. "Canopy structure in Late Cretaceous and Paleocene forests as reconstructed from carbon isotope analyses of fossil leaves." Geology 47 (10): 977-981 [10.1130/g46152.1]

    Dworkin, J. P., L. A. Adelman, T. Ajluni, et al. A. V. Andronikov, J. C. Aponte, A. E. Bartels, E. Beshore, E. B. Bierhaus, J. R. Brucato, B. H. Bryan, A. S. Burton, M. P. Callahan, S. L. Castro-Wallace, B. C. Clark, S. J. Clemett, H. C. Connolly, W. E. Cutlip, S. M. Daly, V. E. Elliott, J. E. Elsila, H. L. Enos, D. F. Everett, I. A. Franchi, D. P. Glavin, H. V. Graham, J. E. Hendershot, J. W. Harris, S. L. Hill, A. R. Hildebrand, G. O. Jayne, R. W. Jenkens, K. S. Johnson, J. S. Kirsch, D. S. Lauretta, A. S. Lewis, J. J. Loiacono, C. C. Lorentson, J. R. Marshall, M. G. Martin, L. L. Matthias, H. L. McLain, S. R. Messenger, R. G. Mink, J. L. Moore, K. Nakamura-Messenger, J. A. Nuth, C. V. Owens, C. L. Parish, B. D. Perkins, M. S. Pryzby, C. A. Reigle, K. Righter, B. Rizk, J. F. Russell, S. A. Sandford, J. P. Schepis, J. Songer, M. F. Sovinski, S. E. Stahl, K. Thomas-Keprta, J. M. Vellinga, and M. S. Walker. 2018. "OSIRIS-REx Contamination Control Strategy and Implementation." Space Science Reviews 214 (1): 19 [Full Text (Link)] [10.1007/s11214-017-0439-4]

    Johnson, S. S., E. V. Anslyn, H. V. Graham, P. R. Mahaffy, and A. D. Ellington. 2018. "Fingerprinting Non-Terran Biosignatures." Astrobiology 18 (7): 915-922 [10.1089/ast.2017.1712]

    Hays, L. E., H. V. Graham, D. J. Des Marais, et al. E. M. Hausrath, B. Horgan, T. M. McCollom, M. N. Parenteau, S. L. Potter-McIntyre, A. J. Williams, and K. L. Lynch. 2017. "Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments." Astrobiology 17 (4): 363-400 [10.1089/ast.2016.1627]

    Kennett, D. J., I. Hajdas, B. J. Culleton, et al. S. Belmecheri, S. Martin, H. Neff, J. Awe, H. V. Graham, K. H. Freeman, L. Newsom, D. L. Lentz, F. S. Anselmetti, M. Robinson, N. Marwan, J. Southon, D. A. Hodell, and G. H. Haug. 2014. "Correlating the ancient Maya and modern European calendars with high-precision AMS 14C dating." Nature Scientific Reports 3 1597-1601 [10.1038/srep01597]

    Graham, H. V., M. E. Patzkowsky, S. W. Wing, et al. G. G. Parker, M. L. Fogel, and K. H. Freeman. 2014. "Isotopic characteristics of canopies in simulated leaf assemblages. ." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 144 82-95 [10.1016/j.gca.2014.08.032]

    Graham, H. V., E. D. Church, and C. H. House. 2013. "Packing for another planet: Learning scientific methodology through alternative reality gaming." Proceedings of the 9th Games, Learning and Society Conference

    Diefendorf, A. F., K. H. Freeman, S. W. Wing, and H. V. Graham. 2011. "Production of n-alkyl lipids in living plants and implications for the geologic past. ." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75 (23): 7472-7485 [10.1016/j.gca.2011.09.028]

    Jahren, A. H., M. C. Byrne, H. V. Graham, L. S. Sternberg, and R. E. Summons. 2009. "The environmental water of the middle Eocene Arctic: Evidence from δD, δ18O and δ13C within specific compounds." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 271 (1-2): 96-103 [10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.09.016]

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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