Welcome to the Origins and Habitability Laboratory!

group photo

We are astrobiologists who study the origin of life and how life can exist on other worlds. Our group consists of geologists, biologists, chemists, engineers, and others. We work on a variety of projects to understand how geological conditions impact life in planetary environments such as early Earth, Mars, icy moons of the outer planets, and exoplanets.

Contact us to learn more about student, postdoc, collaboration, and visitor opportunities!

Recent Lab News

Astrobiology fieldwork paper

A new paper highlighting the first of several field campaigns in Permian salt deposits has been published in Astrobiology and featured on the cover. This work takes place during Scott Perl’s annual fieldwork in the Zechstein formation.

Laurie Barge and Erika Flores working in the Lab

Laurie Barge was featured as a guest on NASA’s Gravity Assist podcast discussing the origin of life and the search for life elsewhere.

New grant between JPL and Howard University

A proposal entitled “Simulations of biogenic systems from electrochemical perspective” has been awarded to investigate the detectable electrochemistry of extreme environment microorganisms with Keith Chin leading the technology effort and Scott Perl leading the science investigations. Prof. Tao Wei is the Howard University Co-PI.

Mars Science Laboratory rover

OHL PI Laurie Barge and OHL Postdocs Laura Rodriguez and Rachel Sheppard were recently selected as new Participating Scientists for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. They will be studying prebiotic chemistry on Mars; detection of organics with LIBS; and geology of sulfate minerals, respectively.


A new paper was published in ACS Earth and Space Chemistry featuring research by our 2019 OHL undergraduate summer intern Jemma Dickson. The study focused on incorporating microbes into a lab-grown hydrothermal chimney.

OHL group members at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference in Seattle, June 2019

OHL group members attended the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference in Seattle, June 2019. Many group members gave talks, posters, participated in plenaries, and outreach events; and we held an OHL science social.