In Memoriam: Sandra Pizzarello, 1933-2021

Sandra Pizzarello, professor emerita in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University, died late last month. She was 88 years old.

A native of Venice, Italy, Dr. Pizzarello earned a doctorate in biological sciences a the University of Padua in Italy. After raising a family in Italy, Dr. Pizzarello came to the United States and joined the faculty at Arizona State University in 1977. She remained active as a research professor until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her groundbreaking work with meteorites redefined the key to the origins of life before it began on earth. Dr. Pizzarello was well known as the co-discoverer, with John Cronin, of enantiomeric excesses in amino acids extracted from meteorites. As a result, she was considered an international expert in the analysis of organic material from meteorites.

Dr. Pizzarello was involved in many projects supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program, including acting as a project collaborator and co-investigator for the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Dr. Pizzarello also served as the president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life.

School of Molecular Sciences Director Tijana Rajh stated that “Sandra’s scientific contributions forever changed our understanding of the role extraterrestrial compounds played in the origin and evolution of life on Earth. Her research on the chiral excess of amino acids in meteorites still informs research today.”

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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