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Ms Bea Baharier

Bea Baharier

Profile summary

Professional biography

2019-Present: PhD researcher, with the AstrobiologyOU research group, School of Earth, Environment and Ecosystems Sciences.

PhD research title: From the Colorado Plateau to beyond Earth: using magmatic intrusions into sulphate-rich sediments as analogue for planetary habitable environments.

Supervisors: Dr Susanne Schwenzer, Prof. Karen Olsson-Francis and Dr Julia Semprich

2018-2019: MSc Geochemistry at the University of St Andrews  

MSc research title: Micro Martians: Sulphur and iron cycling in an Icelandic microbial streamer as an analogue to past Martian processes.

Supervisor: Dr Claire Cousins

2014 – 2017: BSc in Geology, University of Leicester

BSc dissertation title: The Vallcebre Succession, SE Pyrenees, Spain: The K-T extinction horizon.

Supervisor: Prof. Sarah Gabbott

Research interests

I trained as a geologist and a geochemist and my academic career has led me to work with the AstrobiologyOU as I am fascinated by the symbiotic relationship between life and environment through time and space. As a geochemist, I have focussed mostly on the chemical reactions in hydrothermal environments that can support life on Earth as analogues for potential relic habitable environments on Mars.  

For my PhD, I am researching the mineralogical and chemical alteration that form on the direct contact between sulphate-rich sediments (predominantly gypsum and anhydrite) and magmatic dykes from the San Raphael Swell (SRS) in Utah, USA. From these chemical reactions, I will examine whether these environments could have formed a viable habitat on early Earth and Mars.

My MSc was awarded by the University of St Andrews where I examined the microbial communities and their geochemical interactions from geothermal streams within the Kerlingarfjöll volcanic complex in central Iceland. This served as an analogue for potential early biogeochemical processes on Mars. I investigated the biogeochemical adaptation on sub-cm scales; Fe- and S-cycling controls by the immediate environment; and the microbial phylogeny determined by 16S rRNA analysis coupled with functional gene analysis to provide genetic insights into biogeochemical processes.

Impact and engagement

First place winner of the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) "Space Factor" student contest

Full talk:

Micro Martians. Talk as a finalist of the 2019 International Astronautical Congress Student Paper Competition -

UK Selection by the British Interplanetary Society, 2019

Full talk:

Baharier, B. The Mission: Mars. The Problem? Climate Change. YNET news journal (in Hebrew), 2018

Full article and multimedia presentation:,7340,L-5264726,00.html

Baharier, B. Challenging Science Through Innocent Curiosity. Talk at the annual conference of the Israeli Geological Society, Mitzpe Ramon, 2017 

Full talk:


Impact of Slope Inclination on Salt Accumulation Due to Bare Soil Evaporation (2019-11)
Nachshon, Uri; Baharier, Bea; Ogungbile, Abraham and Katzir, Roee
Soil Science Society of America Journal, 83(6) (pp. 1655-1663)

The identification of sulfide oxidation as potential metabolism driving primary production on late Noachian Mars (2020)
Macey, Michael C; Fox-Powell, Mark; Ramkissoon, Nisha K; Baharier, Bea; Oliver, James A W; Stephens, Ben; Schwenzer, Susanne P; Pearson, Victoria K; Cousins, Claire R and Olsson-Francis, Karen
In : 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (15-19 Mar 2020 (Virtual), Houston, USA)