Betul Kacar (Betül Kaçar) is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona Departments of Cell Biology and Astronomy She is also an associate professor at Earth-Life Science Institute of Tokyo Institute of Technology. She received her PhD from Emory University working jointly in the Department of Chemistry and the Emory School of Medicine. She was awarded a NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2012 to bring abstractly reconstructed ancestral DNA sequences into the lab for physical, chemical and biological characterization by expressing inferred DNA sequences in modern organisms. Between 2014 and 2017 she lead an independent project funded by the John Templeton Foundation at Harvard University. In 2018, she moved her laboratory to University of Arizona where she is focusing on reconstructing key enzymatic intermediates between biological activity and global geochemical reservoirs throughout the Earth’s deep history. Betul is named a NASA Early Career Fellow in 2018.
Betul Kacar’s work has been recognized by various media outlets, such as NOVA Science, BBC Focus, New Scientist, WGBH, MIT Technology Review, SETI Institute, Astrobiology Magazine, Wired, Popular Science, PBS, iO9, CNN Turk, Quanta Magazine. She cares deeply about science education, outreach and communication, in 2012 she co-founded SAGANet,: The Online STEM Mentorship and Education Network, she serves on the Board of Advisory Committee of the MIT BioBuilder Foundation and was named “Way Cool Scientist” by the Science Club for Girls, USA in 2016.
Betul Kacar was recently awarded grants from the Templeton Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the NASA Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Programs as well as Harvard Origins Initiative to continue this work deeper into the past and to resurrect greater portions of the universally shared ancestral genome. She is interested in understanding life’s origins, evolution and possible existence elsewhere in t