Betul Kacar
Assistant Professor, Astronomy
Assistant Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Assistant Professor, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Assistant Professor, Planetary Sciences
Primary Department
(520) 621-3440
Work Summary
Professor Betül Kaçar is an astrobiologist exploring the origins of life on Earth and finding life on other planets in the Universe. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in the Departments of Molecular & Cellular Biology as well as Astronomy and the Lunar & Planetary Laboratories. Prior to Arizona, she was a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University where she developed molecular systems to bring ancient DNA sequences into the laboratory for physical, chemical and biological characterization. Her research is supported by NASA Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Programs, NASA Astrobiology Program, the John Templeton Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Harvard University Origins Initiative as well as the University of Arizona Foundation. Betul is one of the Principal Investigators of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Reliving the Past node, is an associate member of the NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the search for life on exoplanets, and currently holds an Adjunct Professor position at Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo, Japan, which is dedicated to understanding the origins of life. She was named a Scialog Fellow of the Heising-Simons Foundation and Kavli Foundation to study the Biosignatures and Life in the Universe in 2020, a NASA Early Career Fellow in 2019, and a Way Cool Scientist by the Science Club for Girls in 2017. Her research has gained national and international attention, and has been featured by CNN, BBC, NOVA Science, Discover Magazine, NPR Science Friday and Scientific American.
Research Interest
Our research focuses on reconstructing molecular time machines as a way to explore and attempt to rebuild lost histories. We use tools drawn from synthetic biology, molecular biology and evolutionary biology to tackle challenging questions in life sciences that will allow us understand life’s fundamental innovations. We hope to reveal underlying molecular mechanisms that are directly and indirectly responsible for maintaining conditions of habitability on our planet’s surface.