Betül Kaçar Honored by the International Society of the Study of the Origin of Life

Betül Kaçar, assistant professor in the department of bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was recently selected to receive the Stanley Miller Early Career Award from the International Society of the Study of the Origin of Life.

This award recognizes promising young scientists for outstanding contributions to origins of life research, particularly those engaged in experimental and/or theoretical studies in astrobiology. Dr. Kaçar’s research program explores the origins of life, the biology of early Earth, and how understanding life’s emergence and early mechanisms may assist finding life beyond Earth. In addition to her research group, she directs a new NASA-funded multimillion-dollar astrobiology research consortium focusing on the evolution of element use in biology across geologic time.

The award citation said that Dr. Kaçar “work is outstanding in pushing the boundaries of our understanding of what could have been ancient enzymes and metabolic pathways, developing innovative techniques for exploring the early evolution of biochemistry. Betül leads one of the few laboratories in the world whose research integrates all of the tools of phylogenetic reconstruction – such as genome engineering, protein biochemistry, and paleobiology – to shed light on the origins and early evolution of life on our planet.”

Originally from Istanbul, Dr. Kaçar joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin in September after teaching at the University of Arizona. She holds a Ph.D. in biomolecular chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta.

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