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Dr. Lynn Rothschild

Sr. Scientist (Astrobiology)

NASA Ames Research Center

Designing nature, on and off planet


When we think of technology, we usually think of something with an "on/off" switch. With the advent of synthetic biology, we are now more aware of using life itself as technology. With this insight and these tools, we can design solutions to the problems of human settlement on the moon and Mars, while improving life on our planet. Why not use life to make habitats, generate food and oxygen, mine metals, make plastics, and so on without actually taking trees or farm animals?

Meet the Speaker:

Dr. Lynn Rothschild is passionate about the origin and evolution of life on Earth or elsewhere, while at the same time pioneering the use of synthetic biology to enable space exploration. Just as travel abroad permits new insights into home, so too the search for life elsewhere allows a more mature scientific, philosophical and ethical perception of life on Earth. She wears several hats as a senior scientist NASA’s Ames Research Center, as well as Adjunct Professor at Brown University. Her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere. More recently Rothschild has brought her creativity to the burgeoning field of synthetic biology, articulating a vision for the future of synthetic biology as an enabling technology for NASA’s missions, including human space exploration and astrobiology. Since 2011 she has been the faculty advisor of the award-winning Stanford-Brown iGEM team, which has pioneered the use of synthetic biology to accomplish NASA’s missions, particularly focusing on the human settlement of Mars, astrobiology and such innovative technologies as BioWires and making a biodegradable UAS (drone) and a bioballoon. Her lab will be move these plans into space in the form of the PowerCell synthetic biology secondary payload on a DLR satellite, EuCROPIS, scheduled to launch in November 2018. She is a fellow of the Linnean Society of London, The California Academy of Sciences and the Explorer’s Club qnefrequently appears on documentaries, tv and radio, and lectures worldwide, including Windsor Castle, Comi Con and the Vatican.

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