Role Model: Dr. David Des Marais

Back story

Growing up, I enjoyed exploring caves. As a graduate student in the 1970s, I studied earth science (geology), and I remember being fascinated by the lunar samples brought to Earth by earlier NASA lunar missions that we were able to study. 

 This experience led to my interest in space science. Later on I became involved with biology, which added a new dimension to my research. This led to my later work on how the carbon cycle relates to Earth’s history and to astrobiology. 

In high school and college, I studied chemistry, physics, mathematics, and geology. Also, I learned that many of the questions we have about our biosphere and environment required the application of more than one of these disciplines. I learned about the scientific method, which provides logical approach to finding answers to mysteries that intrigue me.
I find space exploration motivating and extremely exciting because it fulfills a natural desire -intrinsic to human nature- to go out and search for other forms of life. I believe that our type of work drives the pursuit of excellence in science and technology, and I enjoy contributing to the process.
As an undergraduate, be sure that you get a good foundation in chemistry, physics, or mathematics, because they are the foundation of our efforts to learn the mysteries of life in the universe. Try to get some experience in a research laboratory.

Dr. David Des Marais

Dr. David Des Marais

TitleBiogeochemist Geochemist
  •  Exploring caves
  • Looking for fossil evidence of life on Mars
  • Analysis of micro-organisms
  • Analytical chemistry
EducationPh.D., Geochemistry, Indiana University