The Impressive(ly Young) Woman Behind Arsenic Aliens Discovery


You probably heard that NASA announced a groundbreaking discovery that expands the definition of life as we know it. Did you know the lead scientist is a woman named Felisa Wolfe-Simon — and she’s young? Prepare to feel inadequate.

Wolfe-Simon, an Astrobiology/Exobiology fellow at NASA, is insanely accomplished by anyone’s standards. She did a double degree program in Biology/Chemistry and Oboe Performance at Oberlin, graduating with a total of two degrees in 2000, and then finished her Ph.D. in oceanography at Rutgers by 2006. (Science-minded folk can feel free to decode her dissertation, which was about “the evolution and selection of the powerful metalloenzyme antioxidant superoxide dismutase and its biogeochemical evolution in phytoplankton.”) By standard graduation-year math, that makes her around 31 or 32, though we haven’t found a definitive source.

Also, she has a nose ring, and her nickname is Iron Lisa. In addition to playing oboe, she can rock the bass guitar. And, judging by this photo on her Facebook community page, where you can “like” her, she used to have pink hair.

Congrats on being awesome, Felisa!

Felisa Wolfe-Simon [Official Site]

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