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Sherry Cady

Environmental Dynamics & Simulations
Earth Scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Sequim Marine Research Operations
1529 West Sequim Bay Road
Sequim, WA 98382


Sherry L. Cady is an expert on how microbes and their organic remains alter the minerals and sediments that precipitate and accumulate in their presence. Her research on microbe-mineral interactions helps to reveal the types of signatures microbes leave behind in different types of environments, whether they are sequestered carbon-bearing molecules in soils, a topic relevant to the DOE, or small and degraded amounts of carbonaceous residues in ancient rocks, a topic relevant to NASA and NSF. A better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the sequestration of molecular-scale evidence of microbes in geological materials will improve our ability to predict how microbial communities respond to environmental and climate changes. Such research has implications in the search for microbial life throughout Earth’s geological record and will inform the search for evidence of microbial life beyond Earth.

Research Interests

  • Biogeochemical Imaging
  • Culture Collection of Microorganisms from Extreme Environments (CCMEE)
  • Editor-in-Chief of Astrobiology

Education and Credentials

  • 1994 Ph.D. Geology, University of California Berkeley
  • 1987 B.S. (Honors) Geology, University of California Berkeley

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Member, scientific committee for 3rd Conference on Terrestrial Mars Analogues, Marrakesh, Morocco, 2012
  • Member, National Research Council Committee to Review of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions, 2008
  • Member, National Research Council Committee to Review the Next Decade Mars Architecture, 2006.
  • Member, joint NASA Astrobiology Institute / MEPAG Mars Science Laboratory Caching Working Group, 2007.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, Universitié Cadi Ayyad, Faculty de Sciences, Marrakesh, Morocco, 2014.
  • Lead, NASA Astrobiology Institute Review Panel, 2005.
  • Co-lead, NSF PI Workshop: Microbial Research: Progress and Potential, NSF Microbial Observatory/Life in Extreme Environments Principal Investigators’ Workshop, 2002.
  • Founding Editor-in-Chief of Astrobiology, 2001.
  • Director, Geomicrobiology Electron Microscopy Center
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, NASA Ames Research Center 1995-1996
  • ARCS Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, 1992-1994.

PNNL Publications


  • Sanchez-Garcia L., M.A. Fernandez-Martinez, M. García-Villadangos, Y. Blanco, S.L. Cady, N.W. Hinman, and M.E. Bowden, et al. 2019. "Microbial biomarker transition in High-Altitude Sinter Mounds from El Tatio (Chile) through different stages of hydrothermal activity." Frontiers in Microbiology 9. PNNL-SA-138900. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.03350


  • Siljestrom S., M.N. Parenteau, L.L. Jahnke, and S.L. Cady. 2017. "A comparative ToF-SIMS and GC-MS analysis of phototrophic communities collected from an alkaline silica-depositing hot spring." Organic Geochemistry 109. PNNL-SA-127253. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2017.03.009


  • Boundy-Mills K., M. Hess, A.R. Bennett, M. Ryan, S. Kang, D. Nobles, and J.A. Eisen, et al. 2015. "The United States Culture Collection Network (USCCN): Enhancing Microbial Genomics Research through Living Microbe Culture Collections." Applied Environmental Microbiology 81, no. 17:5671-5674. PNNL-SA-114048. doi:10.1128/AEM.01176-15


  • Oehler D.Z., and S.L. Cady. 2014. "Biogenicity and Syngeneity of Organic Matter in Ancient Sedimentary Rocks: Recent Advances in the Search for Evidence of Past Life." Challenges 5, no. 2:260-283. PNNL-SA-105325. doi:10.3390/challe5020260
  • Parenteau M.N., L.L. Jahnke, J.D. Farmer, and S.L. Cady. 2014. "Production and Early Preservation of Lipid Biomarkers in Iron Hot Springs." Astrobiology 14, no. 6. PNNL-SA-104807. doi:10.1089/ast.2013.1122


  • Laidler J.J., J.A. Shugart, S.L. Cady, K.S. Bahjat, and K.M. Stedman. 2013. "Reversible Inactivation and Desiccation Tolerance of Silicified Viruses." Journal of Virology 87, no. 24:13927-13929. PNNL-SA-99058. doi:10.1128/JVI.02825-13

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