I do research under the broad umbrellas of planetary
science, geobiology or astrobiology. The
last one, "astrobiology", is a
new branch of science concerned with
origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the possible variety of life
beyond Earth .
A key question for astrobiology is what makes a planet habitable.
Earth's surface is stunningly different from the surfaces of its
apparently lifeless neighbours, Mars and Venus. Yet when the Solar
System formed, the Earth was surely as dead and
barren as Mars or Venus appear today. How did the biologically rich
world around us
develop from lifeless beginnings?
To answer this question, we combine various areas of expertise
ranging from biology to astronomy to geology.
My research in astrobiology at University of Washington focuses on
differences between the evolution of planets. How did differences
in the chemical evolution of planetary atmospheres
and geological evolution lead to an environment conducive to life on
Mars and Venus?
"There is grandeur in this view of life, ..., from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." Charles Darwin's closing sentence in On the Origin of Species (1859).
 David C. Catling (2013)
Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction,
Oxford University Press.