James Farquhar

James Farquhar

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Earth Science

Competition: US & Canada

University of Maryland

James Farquhar is an Associate Professor in the Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center and Department of Geology at the University of Maryland.  After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1995, he spent the next two years as the Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington; from 1997 to 2001, he was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Chemist at the University of California, San Diego. In 2000, the same year he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland, he won the F. W. Clark Medal of the Geochemical Society, an award given annually to an early-career scientist for an outstanding contribution to geochemistry or cosmochemistry; in Mr. Farquhar’s case, he received the award for his discovery of  significant oxygen and sulfur isotopes in secondary phases in several meteorites from Mars.

On moving to the University of Maryland, Mr. Farquhar took up a study of sulfur in ancient geologic samples that revealed an unusual sulfur isotope signal in Earth’s early geologic record, indicating a change in Earth’s sulfur cycle approximately 2450 MYA, which influenced the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. This significant find led to his appointment as Professeur Invité at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in 2007, and invitations to speak at UCLA’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences; the Tokyo Institute of Technology; the Lunar and Planetary Institute, a NASA-funded institute in Houston, Texas; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; LGGE Grenoble; among many other institutions and more than twenty-four conferences. He has also been a Guest Investigator at the Biological Institute of the University of Southern Denmark and a Visiting Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, and Fellow of the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany. In 2004 he received an NSF CAREER Award.

Among his many publications are the following:  (with Mark H. Thiemens and Teresa Jackson), "Atmosphere-surface interactions on Mars: 170 measurements of carbonate from ALH 84001,"  Science, 280 (1998), 1580-1582; (with Joel Savarino, Terri L. Jackson, and Mark H. Thiemens), "Evidence of atmospheric sulphur in the Martian regolith from sulphur isotopes in meteorites," Nature, 404 (2000), 50-52; (with Huiming Bao and Mark Thiemens), "Atmospheric influence of the Earth’s earliest sulphur cycle," Science, 289 (2000), 756-758; (with Boswell A. Wing et al.), "Mass-independent sulfur of inclusions in diamond and sulfur recycling on early Earth," Science, 298, No. 5602 (2002), 2369-2372; and (with David T. Johnston et al.), "Multiple sulfur isotopic interpretations of biosynthetic pathways: Implications for biological signatures in the sulfur isotope record," Geobiology, 1 (2003), 27-36.

James Farquhar was an associate editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2005-08) and Geochemical Transactions (2006-09) and is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Geochemical Society.  During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he is conducting isotopic investigations of microbial sulfur metabolisms.

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