Dawn Y. Sumner

Dawn in Pearse Valley, Antarctica

I am a geobiologist who explores complex interactions among environments and life across geological time. My lab group traces the history of Earth-life interactions through their impacts on evolution and environmental conditions. These investigations are highly collaborative, building on diverse ideas from creative individuals using techniques from stratigraphy, genomics, petrography, biogeochemistry, ecology, and more.

(This site is new and is being updated at about the rate of a medium speed gliding cyanobacterium.)


Some of our active projects include:

  • Characterizing microbial communities in ice-covered lakes, Antarctica (details)
    • Organisms basal to previously know O2 producing cyanobacteria, including Melainabacteria and Aurora
    • The seasonal dynamics of “O2 oasis” created by photosynthesis in Lake Fryxell microbial mats
    • Relationships among microbial mat morphology, microbial communities, and environmental gradients, including nutrient cycling
  • Exploring Mars with Curiosity (the rover) (details)
    • Ancient environmental and diagenetic conditions in Gale Crater, Mars
    • Habitability of martian environments
  • Reconstructing microbial communities and their geochemical environments prior to the Great Oxidation Event (details)
    • Pyritic interval associated with a meteorite impact
    • Primary productivity in fenestrate microbialites from South Africa

(Sumner’s publications on Scholar)


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