Dr. Newman is a Professor in the Divisions of Biology and Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. When Newman began her undergraduate studies at Stanford University she wasn’t sure she was going to be a scientist because she was interested in a variety of different fields. In fact, she received her B.A. in German studies. Unable to forego a scientific way of thinking, however, she decided to enroll in a PhD program in environmental engineering at MIT. While in graduate school, she took a class in environmental microbiology and she has been studying it ever since.
Newman’s group is interested in the co-evolution of life and Earth. Specifically, they take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the molecular mechanisms that underlie putatively ancient forms of metabolism. By understanding the way extant organisms function at the molecular level, they hope eventually to gain insights into the evolution of ancient metabolic and biomineralization pathways, interpret the chemical signatures of early life found in the geologic record, and understand how multicellular bacterial communities survive in various contexts (including some relevant to infections).