CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 3, 2002
Engineer receives grant to study life in extreme environments
Tonya Peeples, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering
in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, has been awarded a one-year,
$29,984 grant by the Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC).
Peeples' research, "A Molecular, Biochemical and Biophysical Study
on Piezophilic Bacterial Adaptation to the Deep-Sea High Pressure Environment:
Astrobiological Implications," will be conducted in collaboration with
Dr. Jiasong Fang, assistant professor of geological and atmospheric services
at Iowa State University and principal investigator on the project. Dr. David
S. McKay of the NASA Astrobiology Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, Galveston,
Texas will also collaborate on the project. Peeples' study is designed to
develop a better understanding of how microbes adapt to cold high-pressure
systems similar to environments that may be found in space.
She notes that her work may also lead to a better understanding of conventional
life systems and environments. "The more we understand about life in
extreme environments, the more we are able to understand about biological
systems in our daily lives," she says.
The ISGC promotes education, research, and outreach in aeronautics and space
related fields and the ISGC funds students, faculty, and researchers at the
Peeples, who came to the UI in 1995, is a researcher in the field of organisms
that thrive in extreme environments. Her present research interests include
extremophile biocatalysis and bioremediation. She earned her bachelor's degree
in 1988 from North Carolina State University and her doctorate in 1995 from
John Hopkins University.