• KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Research overview

I am a stable isotope geochemist and geobiologist with primary research interests in the early Earth and extraterrestrial environments. I'm the lead PI of the quadruple sulfur isotope anaytical facilities in the St Andrews Stable Isotope Group, and Co-PI of the inter-disciplinary Peter James Clark Centre for Philosophical Geobiology

Research in my group focuses on understanding the co-evolution of life with planetary environments over geologic timescales. We utilize a multi-disciplinary approach, including stable isotope geochemistry, microbiology, and numerical modeling, to examine these interactions and possible feedbacks in modern and paleo-environments. Current research projects revolve around three broad areas:

  1. Establishing and evaluating stable isotope biosignatures for microbial activity, on Earth and beyond;

  2. Examining biogeochemical cycling in extreme environments that act as modern "analogues" to ancient Earth and Martian systems (e.g., euxinic and acidic environments);

  3. Investigating feedbacks between the geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere during important transitions in Earth history, including the Great Oxidation Event and mass extinction events. 

Academic/Professional Qualification

NERC Research Fellow, 2010-2013, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University

Post-doctoral Researcher, 2006-2008, and Laboratory Manager, 2008-2010, Department of Geology (Stable Isotope Laboratory, sulfur group), University of Maryland

PhD in Geosciences, 2006, NSF-IGERT Biogeochemical Research program, Pennsylvania State University

MSc in Geology with concentration in Geomicrobiology, 2001, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

BSc in Geology with distinction, 1999, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Teaching activity

Module coordinator, ES3011: Global Biogeochemical Cycling, ES5012: Biogeochemistry

Additional modules: ES1001 (biosphere), ES2003 (geomicrobiology, elemental cycling), ES5005 (stable isotope geochemistry), co-leader of Rio Tinto field trip (BSc EES and MSc Geochem)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • QE Geology
  • biogeochemistry
  • geomicrobiology
  • Earth history
  • stable isotope geochemistry
  • nutrient cycling


Dive into the research topics where Aubrey Lea Zerkle is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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