• Organization
    Arizona State University, School of Earth and Space Exploration

  • Employment Status
    University / College Faculty

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  • Biography

    JACK D. FARMER is Professor of Geology in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU). His research interests include biological mediation of sedimentary processes, the microbial fossil record of the Precambrian biosphere and the origin and early evolution of animals. Much of his research has focused on understanding the factors that control biosignature preservation and how this knowledge can be translated into strategies to explore for evidence of past life on the Precambrian Earth, or on other planets, like Mars. He received graduate degrees in Geology and Paleobiology from the University of Kansas (M.S. 1971) and the University of California, Davis (PhD, 1978). From 1973 – 1980, while at U.C. Davis, he was Senior Museum Scientist in Geological Sciences. From 1981-1985 he was Senior Geologist with Exxon Petroleum Co., Western Division Production. From 1986 – 1991, he was on the Faculty of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Dept. at UCLA where he taught Paleontology, Oceanography and Introductory Earth Science, and in 1991, he became a research scientist in the Exobiology Branch of NASA’s Ames Research Center. He moved to Arizona State University in 1998, where he became Professor of Geological Sciences. Jack was the first Director of ASU’s NASA-funded Astrobiology Program and was a charter member of the Executive Council of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute (NAI) from 1998-2003. He was Chairperson of the NAI Mars Focus Group (2000-2003) and of the community-based Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) in 2003. Since the early 1990s, he has played major roles in promoting the astrobiological exploration of Mars by developing strategies to explore for a record of past Martian life, carrying out studies of extreme environments on Earth regarded to be analogs for early Mars and in the identification of landing sites for robotic surface missions to Mars, including the Mars Pathfinder mission (1996), and the Mars Exploration Rover mission (2004 – present). He served on the science definition teams for the Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions and is a participating scientist on the Mars Exploration Rover mission (ongoing). Jack is also a member of the CheMin instrument team for the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity rover mission which landed at Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. Curiosity is now actively exploring its landing site for evidence of past habitable environments. Since the late 1980s, Jack has been an active member of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and is co-founder and past chairperson for GSA’s Geobiology/Geomicrobiology Division. In 2012, he received the Division’s Award for “Outstanding Contributions to the Fields of Geobiology and Geomicrobiology”. Jack is Associate Editor of the journals, Astrobiology and the International Astrobiology Journal. He is a past member of NASA’s Space Sciences Advisory Committee and has served on several National Research Council (NRC) committees, including the Space Studies Board (SSB), the Committee to Review the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Committee for the Review of NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Plan, and the Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs. In 2009, chaired the NRC SSB’s Committee on the Review of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions Space Studies Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences of the National Research Council. At ASU, Jack teaches courses in Astrobiology, Paleontology, Sedimentology and Advanced Field Geology, and mentors graduate students doing research in the fields of Astrobiology and Geobiology.

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