BAER’s Dr. Darlene Lim Wins NASA Ames Honor Award

A team of scientists, including BAER’s Dr. Darlene Lim, have won the prestigious NASA Ames Honor Award for Group Achievement for the Pavilion Lake Research Project.

The goal of the project is to discover the origin of freshwater reef-like structures called microbialites in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia.  Microbialites are layered rock structures formed by algae and other microorganisms.  Fossilized microbialites are remnants of some of the earliest life on Earth, some dating back 2.5 billion years. Today, microbialites are usually found in environments too harsh for most other organisms.  The microbialites in Pavilion Lake are unusual however, because they occur in water that also supports fish, plants and other species.  By studying these microbialites, scientists hope to broaden our understanding of ancient microbialites, providing insight into the search for life in our own solar system and beyond.

The Principal Investigator for the Pavilion Lake Research Project is BAER’s Dr. Darlene Lim.  Dr. Lim, who received her PhD in Geobiology from the University of Toronto, has spent nearly 20 years leading field research programs around the world.  She has conducted research in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and in various underwater environments where she has spent hours piloting submersibles as a scientist and explorer.  In 2013, Wired Magazine named Dr. Lim as one of the world’s fifty “brightest minds.”  Seehttp://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/12/features/the-smart-list-2013/viewgallery/330477.

To study microbialite structures in Pavilion Lake and nearby Kelly Lake, Dr. Lim and her fellow scientists are using a variety of tools, including robots, SCUBA, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and submersibles.  This equipment is being used in ways that provide a learning opportunity for understanding how to operate in hostile and challenging environments that may be encountered in future space exploration.

You can read more about Dr. Lim and the Pavilion Lake Research Project here: http://www.pavilionlake.com/.

Congratulations Dr. Lim!