Stanford University
Bacteria sample through a microscope

Malory Brown awarded by European geochemistry society

The Earth system science PhD candidate has been awarded by the European Association of Organic Geochemists for her innovative and groundbreaking research on ancient bacteria.

BY Danielle Torrent Tucker
ClockSeptember 30, 2021

PhD candidate Malory Brown has been selected amongst more than 250 submissions to the International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (IMOG) for presenting the most innovative and groundbreaking research. As the awardee, she gave the Geoff Eglinton Presentation at the opening of the IMOG 2021 conference on Sept. 13.

Profile image for Malory Brown
Malory Brown

Brown works with associate professor of Earth system science Paula Welander exploring how well-preserved lipid compounds with specific biological origins can function as biomarkers for ancient environmental conditions. Her research project, “Testing the Sponge Biomarker Hypothesis Through Identification of 24-Isopropenylcholesterol Biosynthesis Enzymes,” suggests that ancient bacteria may have been a source of side chain alkylated sterane biomarkers, including 24-isopropylcholestane (24-ipc). The findings are significant because 24-ipc is sometimes interpreted as the first evidence for animals in the geological record.

“It feels great to know that the IMOG scientific committee recognizes the value in applying techniques in molecular biology and biochemistry to questions in organic geochemistry,” Brown said.

The award Brown received was named for the late professor Geoff Eglinton, who is known as the father of modern organic geochemistry. The award was created to reflect Eglinton’s continual interest in exploring novel ideas, his use of new and innovative techniques, and his passion for presenting his science.

Brown said it was especially meaningful to receive the award because Eglinton coauthored the book “Echoes of Life,” which she read upon learning she’d be attending Stanford to work on biomarkers. Eglinton was also the first scientist to use gas chromatography to separate terpenoid lipids, a technique Brown uses in her own work.

“It feels amazing and surreal to even be considered for such an award as a graduate student,” Brown said. “I was so excited to receive a talk at all, and the award on top was such an honor.”

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