The Scientist With A Nose Ring-and Her Brilliant Discovery

Felisa Wolfe-Simon found a new form of life on earth.

The Scientist With A Nose Ring—and Her Brilliant Discovery

Felisa Wolfe-Simon found a new form of life on earth.

-Jane Farrell

Felisa Wolfe-Simon

Felisa Wolfe-Simon isn’t your average scientist—in a lot of ways.

For one thing, Wolfe-Simon, a NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow in residence at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., led a team of scientists in discovering a micro-organism that grow and reproduce by using arsenic. Every other life form on earth uses phosphorus for that function. Scientists said that the discovery, announced earlier this month, expanded the definition of life on earth and has implications for the kinds of life that may live beyond earth. Experts say it’s one of the most important scientific discoveries ever.

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But that’s not all that’s unusual and wonderful about Wolfe-Simon, who’s in her thirties. Here’s the short list, according to Newser and the Wall Street Journal:

*The initials for the newly discovered micro-organism, GFAJ-1, stand for Give Felisa A Job. (As a fellow at NASA, she doesn’t have a permanent position. Something tells us that will change. Soon.)
*She has a nose ring.
*She has a website, www.ironlisa.com.
*She used to have pink hair.
*Besides her biology and chemistry degrees, and her Ph.D. in oceanography (GFAJ-1 was discovered in a lake), she has a degree in oboe performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, one of the most respected music schools in the U.S.

And she’s got a sense of humor. The day before the NASA press conference, the web exploded with rumors that the space agency was going to reveal that they had found actual aliens. When Simon-Wolfe met the press, she joked that she was sorry she didn’t have any “little green men” to show them.

Who knows? Someday she might.

In the meantime, you can follow her on twitter at @ironlisa.(newser, wallstreetjournal)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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