PhD Student

phone (617)-643-2910

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-610, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02139




2017-present– Graduate Student, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
2007-2011– Sc.B, Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

I received an Sc.B. in Geological Sciences from Brown University in 2011 where I wrote my  thesis on the evolution of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) through the Holocene using alkenone lipid biomarkers. After, I worked as a research assistant at Brown and later in the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository at Columbia University until 2014. In 2015, I moved to MIT and served as research staff for the development team of a metagenomics-based Mars life detection instrument called SETG, The Search for Extra-terrestrial Genomes. In 2017, I began my graduate studies at MIT, for which I am co-advised by Roger Summons and Maria Zuber.


My research involves the search for life on Mars, biomarker preservation, and the origins of life on Earth.

While the role of late diagenesis alteration and preservation of biomarkers (e.g., lipids) is well understood, few studies have focused on the diversity of early diagenetic processes, which dictate preservation depending on environmental setting. In order to better understand the relationship between depositional environment and sedimentary biological processes, I analyze the lipid suites of thermally immature fish concretions from around the world. The partially decomposed fish contain a wide range of lipids from eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea. These molecular fossils provide a unique opportunity to probe the diagenetic continuum or the window into the biological-geological (e.g., sterols to steranes; hopanols to hopanes) transition and preservation of biomarkers.

Select Publications

Mojarro, A., J. Hachey, R. Bailey, M. Brown, R. Doebler, G. Ruvkun, M. T. Zuber, & C. E. Carr. Nucleic acid extraction and sequencing from low-biomass synthetic Mars analog soils for in situ life detection. BioRxiv, 2018 (in review)

Mojarro, A., J. Hachey,G. Ruvkun, M. T. Zuber, & C. E. Carr. CarrierSeq: a sequence analysis workflow for low-input nanopore sequencing. BMC Bioinformatics, 2018

Mojarro, A., G. Ruvkun, M. T. Zuber, & C. E. Carr. Nucleic Acid Extraction from Synthetic Mars Analog Soils for In Situ Life detection. Astrobiology, 2017

Carr, C. E., A. Mojarro, J. Hachey, K. Saboda., J. Tani, S.A. Bhattaru, A. Smith, A. Pontefract, M.T. Zuber, M. Finney, R. Doebler, M. Brown, R. Talbot, V. Nguyen, R. Bailey, T. Ferguson, G. Church, & G. Ruvkun Towards In Situ Sequencing for Life Detection. Aerospace Conference, IEEE, Big Sky, Montana, March 4-11, 2017, Abstract #2353

Bova, S. C., T. D. Herbert, Y. Rosenthal, J. Kalansky, M. Altabet, C. Chazen, A. Mojarro, & J. Zech. Upward-propagating change in Eastern Equatorial Pacific intermediate water heat and carbon content during deglaciation. Paleoceanography, 2015