SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, April 15, 2011
Some Like It Hot... and Toxic
Dr. Jan Amend
Life emerged on Earth more than 3.5 billion years ago. Since then, microorganisms have evolved along
with Earth, altering its air, oceans, and solid surface. Invisibly small creatures, bacteria and the more recently
discovered Archaea - inhabit the most inhospitable environments on our planet: boiling hot
springs, hot water vents on the bottom of the oceans, acid mines, salt ponds, arsenic-laden waters, and
rocks buried thousands of feet underground. Dr. Amend will explain why we are so interested in these "extremophiles", what they can tell us about the conditions that support life, and what they tell us about
the origin of life on Earth. A better understanding of the range of conditions that can support life on Earth
can help us in the search for life on other worlds.
Jan Amend is an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington
University. His research work combines geochemistry, microbiology, and molecular biology to
study the chemical connections between microorganisms and their natural environment. Professor
Amend's field areas include the hydrothermal systems of the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily; Italy; and
Yellowstone National Park.