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L.M. Ward

Laboratory Instructor & Technical Support for Geosciences


L.M. Ward is a geobiologist with interests spanning Earth history, environmental microbiology and astrobiology. After learning to love rocks and the outdoors while growing up in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas, Ward went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard College in 2011 and a doctorate in geobiology from Caltech in 2017. They returned to Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow until 2021 when they joined Smith College as a laboratory instructor and technical support person.

Ward has a number of ongoing research projects with lots of opportunities for student involvement centered on big questions about how life and the environment have changed and shaped each other through time. These include studies to understand the early evolution of the biological nitrogen cycle, characterize microbial communities at hot springs in Iceland and New Zealand, and modeling the productivity of potential life on icy moons, such as Europa and Enceladus.


Ph.D., Caltech
B.S., Harvard College