Microbes, rocks, and words

I’m a geobiology grad student driven to understand what makes the Earth and other planets tick — whether that be tectonic forces on the scale of continents or tiny tweaks to the DNA of microscopic bacterium.

At MIT, I study how bacterial slime influences the formation of minerals in microbial mats, ancient ecosystems whose fossil remails constitute the oldest unequivocal evidence of life on Earth. In my past life as a geobiology major at Caltech, I worked on developing non-destructive methods for characterizing the mineralogy of Martian meteorites. And yes, I did get to touch a Mars rock.

While my current research is squarely focused on microbe-mineral interractions, I get the chance to explore beyond the lab through science writing. I’ve written on everything from the limits of microbial life to slingshotting exoplanets, and am especially interested in stories about microbes, space, and the environment. My words appear in Eos, Science News, Massive Science, Caltech News, Caltech Magazine, and student publications. I also spent a stint as co-host of the Strange New Worlds science podcast.

Before coming to MIT, I spent a Fulbright at the University of Southern Denmark.

When I’m not in the lab or re-re-re-writing a lede, I’m probably either climbing, adding to my too-tall stack of German flashcards, or overthinking a tweet.

Questions, comments, or hate mail? Send it my way at me@elisecutts.com

Elise Cutts

Geobiology grad student

How to say my name