Yuri Tamama ’22



Project Title

The Impact of Freezing Temperatures and Strong Oxidants on Biological Methanogenesis: Implications for Melting Permafrost and the Search for Life on Mars

Certificate(s): Planets and Life

I studied how the growth of methane-producing archaea, or methanogens, is affected under stressful conditions such as freezing temperatures and exposure to strong oxidants. This project aimed to examine whether biological methane production is contributing to the methane observed in the Martian atmosphere, as well as to better understand how climate change may impact methane fluxes from melting permafrost. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas and a significant fraction of it is stored in Earth’s permafrost, where conditions are not unlike those on Mars. Studying methane production under these conditions could tell us how methane is produced in permafrost. Active methane production in permafrost increases its potential impact on global warming. I learned how to culture methanogens and extract their RNA, which is currently being sequenced. The resulting transcriptomes will be analyzed to understand how the harsh conditions of permafrost affected gene expression and methane production. My internship furthered my interest in astrobiology, geobiology, environmental science and research. I hope to pursue similar opportunities in the future as an undergraduate and graduate student.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate Change and Environmental Science


Onstott Lab, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Tullis Onstott, Professor of Geosciences; Rachel Harris, Ph.D. candidate, Geosciences