If you would like to join our team, check our current research to see if your interests align with ours. If interested, please submit an application and also feel free to contact Prof. Kounaves to find out about open positions. Prerequisite: Quantitative Analysis (Chem 42 or 43). A minimum two-semester 15hr/week commitment is expected.

Current Group Members


Sam Kounaves (Ph.D.) (he/him)
Principal Investigator

Sam is a Professor of Chemistry at Tufts University, an Affiliate Scientist at the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Imperial College London. He received his B.S./M.S. from Cal State-San Diego in 1978 and a Ph.D/D.Sc. from Université de Genève in 1985. After post-doc fellowships at SUNY-Buffalo and Harvard University, he joined the faculty at Tufts in 1988. His research interests are in planetary science and astrobiology using the techniques of modern analytical chemistry, with a focus on the search for biomarkers for life on Mars and Enceladus.

He has co/authored over 115 top-tier publications and received over 35 grants from NASA, NSF, and EPA. Among other honors, he received the ACS-Kavli Award for Innovations in Chemistry; he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Geological Society; Royal Society of Chemistry; and has received several NASA awards.


Neveda Naz (Ph.D.) (she/her)
Visiting Scholar

Neveda is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Tufts University. She received her B.S. in Biomedical Science from Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), M.S. in Medical and Molecular Microbiology from the University of Manchester (UK), and her Ph.D. in Microbial Pathogenicity from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK). After a teaching position at Endicott College (2016-18), she joined the Chemistry Department as a post-doctoral scholar (2018-23) and is currently a Visiting Scholar.

Her research interests are in understanding how bacteria can survive in extreme environments such those found on Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn (Europa and Enceladus), and what that would mean in the search for extraterrestrial life.



Bernadette Dineen (she/her)
Graduate Student
B.S., 2018, Mass College of Liberal Arts, North Adams , MA

Bernadette is a Massachusetts native who has lived in the Berkshires for the last 8 years. Her research focuses on investigating the fragmentation effects of UV radiation and oxychlorine intermediates on tryptophan under standard Mars conditions using GC-MS analysis. She is also developing ion selective electrodes using novel ionophores for detecting important life-essential compounds on ocean worlds, such as Enceladus!

Bernadette spends most of her free time reading and hanging out with her cat, The Meow, however in the warmer parts of the year you can find her gardening. She enjoys solving 3D hand puzzles, particularly metal, and her favorite food is pizza without cheese. Bernadette is passionate in her distaste for Bradford Pear trees and microfiber cloths.



Megan Farrah (she/her)
Graduate Student
B.S., 2022, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Megan hails from Winfield, Missouri. Her area of research involves design and development of Mars simulation chambers, as well as examining fragmentation patterns of biomarkers under martian conditions. Her next project will focus on studying the production and permeation of organic-destroying chlorine dioxide gas in martian regolith.

Megan spends her free time reading and socializing with close friends. Her favorite books are William Powell’s The Anarchist Cookbook, Emily Henry’s Happy Place, and Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. She enjoys a sun-warmed car on a chilly day, bubble baths, glitter, light in the 380-450 nm range, and ice chips in a dirty martini.



Kristen (Molly) Twombly (she/her)
Graduate Student
B.S., 2023, Norwich University, Northfield, VT

Molly is a graduate student from Rockport Massachusetts. Presently, her research focus revolves around the fragmentation patterns and pathways of biomarkers induced by UV radiation and oxychlorination in simulated martian environments.

Molly spends her free time on the tennis court or at the beach. As the former captain of the Norwich University tennis team, her enduring passion for the game is palpable. Growing up amidst the coastal charm of Rockport, Molly has cultivated a deep affection for the ocean and its vibrant inhabitants.


Emma Smith (she/her)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Tufts University (BS 2025)

Emma is an undergraduate at Tufts from Glastonbury, Connecticut. Her research investigates the breakdown of adenosine under martian conditions using a Mars Simulation Chamber and LC-MS analysis.

Emma spends her free time listening to music and playing with all the friendly dogs. She sprints and runs hurdles on the Tufts track team. Emma enjoys indie music, and her favorite color is orange. Her dream job is to work as a field marine biologist.




Madeline Walters (she/her)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Tufts University (BS 2025)

Madeline is a chemistry and geological sciences undergraduate from Clinton, New York. She is currently working on understanding biomarker fragmentation patterns and pathways caused by UV radiation and oxychlorination under martian conditions.

Madeline spends her free time hanging out with friends, going to the gym, or playing videogames. She throws discus and hammer for the Tufts track and field team. Her favorite book is The Martian by Andy Weir. Madeline’s dream job is conducting Mars research for NASA, or becoming an astronaut and performing research ON Mars!


Rachel Taylor (she/her)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Tufts University (BS 2025)

Rachel is from the South Shore in Hanover, MA. Her research focuses on the detection of essential elements to life via electrochemical analysis of dilute samples, developing ion selective electrodes for analysis of ocean worlds. She also is about to join the rest of the lab on evaluating biomarker degradation via UV radiation and oxychlorine intermediates.

Rachel is co-captain of the Tufts Club Rugby team, and typically plays in the back line. In her free time, she enjoys reading, but can’t choose a favorite book because there are too many! Her favorite food is chicken marsala from either the Cheesecake Factory or her mom’s homemade. Her favorite TV show is BBC’s Sherlock, which she has watched too many times to count! She doesn’t have a specific dream job, but hopes that whatever it is allows her to travel for work.


Alexander (Alex) Terwogt (he/him)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Tufts University (BS 2024)

Alex spent the first 18 years of his life in Zierikzee, [the] Netherlands, before moving to Chicago, Illinois. He is working on the installation of a Waters LC-MS instrument for the Kounaves lab, as well as working on the analysis of the fragmentation of adenosine under martian conditions.

As for free time, you can always find Alex sitting outside on his balcony enjoying a book, or cooking or baking a new recipe! His favorite book series is Red Rising by Pierce Brown, and he enjoys indie/alt/pop music. His dream job is to become an organic chemist working in small molecule drug discovery or working in astrobiology research!


Group Alumni

Graduate Students (Last known position)

Dongyu Liu Dongyu Liu
Postdoctoral Scholar 2020-21
PhD 2020
(Changzhou Pharmaceutical)

Elizabeth Jaramillo (Oberlin)
PhD 2018
(NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Miles Clark

Miles Clark
MS 2017
(Vertex Pharmaceuticals)

Robert Bolhofner
MS 2017
(Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories)


Andrew Weber
MS 2016
(Giner, Inc.)

Brandi Carrier
PhD 2015
(NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Glen O'Neil
PhD 2013
(Montclair State University)

Kyle McElhoney
PhD 2013
(Aurora University)

Kaitlyn Folds
MS 2013
(Energy Fitness and Gymnastics

Victoria Hansen
MS 2013
(General Electric Global
Research Center)

Shannon Stroble
PhD 2011
(Franklin Pierce University)

Jody Maisano
MS 2010
(U. S. Coast Guard)
Trish Hredzak
MS 2010
(Carnegie Mellon University)
Jason Kapit
MSME 2009
(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)
Po-Chang Hsu
MS 2008
(Psychiatry Neuroimaging Lab, Harvard BWH)
Brian Comeau
PhD 2008
(Acushnet Company)
Casey Cable
MS 2007
(VCU Health)
Melanie Blake
MS 2006
(Koch Industries)
Stefan Lukow
PhD 2005
(Morpho Detection, Inc.)
John Birtles
PhD 2004
(Perkin Elmer)
Sandie Tan
PhD 2003
AgaMatrix Inc.)
Rebecca Noll
MS 2002
Cubist Pharmaceuticals)
Rosemary Feeney
PhD 2002
Meridian Bioscience)
Vlad Tarasov
MS 2001
ULVAC Technologies)
JHerdan Janet Herdan
MS 2001
Thermo Fisher Scientific)
MNolan Melissa Nolan
PhD 1999
Dupont - CSE Division)
BWorkie Bizuneh Workie
PhD 1996
Delaware State University)
Wen Deng
PhD 1995
Lipocine Inc.)
Pamela R. Hallock
MS 1995
Northern Essex Community College)
TimLiu Tim Zhaohui Liu
PhD 1994
Applied Biosystems)
Christopher Dube
MS 1993
Draper Laboratory)
David Lu
MS 1993
General Applied Technologies Corp.)

Visiting Scientists, Staff, & Postdocs

  • Dr. Michael Hecht (Visiting Scienist, 2011-12) - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Prof. Nikos Chaniotakis (Visiting Professor, 2010-12) - University of Crete, Greece
  • Kalina Gospodinova (Research Technician, 2006-09) - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
  • Dr. Suzanne M. M. Young (Postdoc Res. Assoc., 2005-08)
  • Prof. Oksana Nadzhafova (Visiting Scienist, 2000) - Taras Shevchenko Univ.
  • Prof. Levent Aksu (Visiting Scientist, 1994-95) - Gazi University, Turky

Undergraduate/Post Baccalaureate Students

  • Bijan Harandi, Laidlaw Scholar 2021-23
  • Jacob Newmark, Summer Scholar 2022-23
  • Allison Brea, UG RA 2021-22
  • Clare Utz, UG RA 2021-22
  • Alex Walter, UG RA 2021-22
  • Lillian Dennis, UG RA 2019-20
  • Vedant Kothari, UG RA 2019-20
  • Jessica Dabrowski, UG RA 2016-17
  • Jingcheng Huang, UG RA 2016-17
  • Adam Hildebrand, UG RA 2015-16
  • Phillip Weiner, UG RA Spring 2015
  • Adam Jacob, UG RA Summer 2014
  • Torsten Johnson, UG RA Summer 2014
  • Stacey Berkowitz, Summer Scholar 2013
  • Ian Grant, UG RA Summer 2011
  • Max Zhukovsky, UG RA Summer 2011
  • Leonard Ashu, UG RA 2010-11
  • Patric Gibbons, UG RA 2010-11
  • Kevan Mamdouhi, UG RA 2010-11
  • Andrew Morgenthaler, UG RA 2010-11
  • Justin Wage, UG RA 2008-10
  • Rachel Anderson, UG RA 2009-10
  • Quincy Moore, UG RA 2009-10
  • Jen Shusterman, UG RA 2009-10
  • Shivani Sheopory, UG RA 2007
  • Greg Wilbur, UG RA Summer 2007
  • Ivor Asztalos, UG RA Summer 2006
  • Matthew Christie, UG RA 2006
  • Russell Sargent - UG RA 2004-06
  • Steve Fature - UG RA Summer 2006
  • Sara Buzak - UG RA, 2005-06
  • Peter Sambatakos - UG RA, Summer 2005
  • Jacqueline Haker - UG RA, Summer 2004
  • Emily Coombs - RA, Fall 2004
  • Scott Wilbur - UG RA, Summer 2004
  • Eva Longo - RA, Spring 2004
  • Jessica Gauthier - UG RA, 2003-04
  • Graham Griffin - UG RA, 2003-04
  • Sudarat Infahsaeng-UGRA, 2003-04
  • Rayna R. Kodama - UG RA, 2003-04
  • Kevin Lewis - UG RA, 2002-03
  • Amelia L. Botsford - UG RA, 02-03
  • Katie Nordstrom - UG RA, 2002
  • Adam Biacchi - UG RA, 2002-03
  • Sonia Taktak - RA, Fall 2001
  • Stefanos K. Intzes - UG RA, 99-00
  • Emily M. White - UG RA, 96-97
  • David Guiliano - REU Summer 1994
  • Nicole Damour - REU Summer 1993
  • Garrett Forbes -  UG RA,,91-92
  • Christine Jaworek -  UG RA, 91-92
  • Cyrus Rangan -  UG RA, 89-90
  • Doug Michaud -  UG RA, 89-90
  • David Pelham -  UG RA, 88-90

Last Updated: 11/16/2023

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