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Clara Chan

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director


I study geomicrobiology, in particular the interactions between microbes and minerals. My research focuses on microbial mineralization, including characterizing mineral phase, morphology, and reactivity, as well as investigating the roles microbes play in precipitation and crystallization processes. I take a multidisciplinary approach, combining geochemical field characterization and sampling, molecular biology, biochemistry, culturing and a wide variety of microscopy and spectroscopy techniques.

Department Affiliation

Department of Geological Sciences 

Current Projects

CAREER: Rusting the Earth: the mechanisms and mineralogy of microbial Fe oxidation
NSF Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry, #1151682

Collaborative Research: Ecology of microbial mats at seamount associated Fe-rich hydrothermal vent systems
NSF Biological Oceanography, #1155290

Development of biogenicity criteria and paleoenvironmental interpretations for iron microfossils based on the morphology, physiology and behavior of modern iron-oxidizing bacteria
NASA Exobiology, NNX12AG20G  

Genome-enabled investigation of S° cycling in a subterranean microbial ecosystem
NSF Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry, #1251918

S(0) globule metabolism in Chlorobaculum tepidum: interdisciplinary studies of a novel microbe mineral interaction
NSF Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, #1244373

Please visit Clara Chan’s personal website for details on each project. 


Postdoctoral Fellow, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2006-2008
Ph.D., Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 1998
B.S., Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 1997

Selected Publications

Chan, C. S., Emerson, D., and Luther, III, G. W. The role of microaerophilic Fe-oxidizing microorganisms in producing banded iron formations, Geobiology, 14:509-528. doi: 10.1111/gbi.12192

Field, E. K., Kato, S., Findlay, A. J., MacDonald, D. J., Luther, III, G. W., Chan, C. S. Planktonic marine iron-oxidizers drive iron mineralization under low oxygen conditions, Geobiology, 14:499-508. doi:10.1111/gbi.12189

Chan, C. S., McAllister, S. M., Leavitt, A. H., Glazer, B. T., Krepski, S. T., and Emerson, D. The architecture of iron microbial mats reflects the adaptation of chemolithotrophic iron oxidation in freshwater and marine environments, Front. Microbiol. 7:796. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00796

C.L. Marnocha, D.H. Powell, A.T. Levy, T.E. Hanson, and C.S. Chan (2016) Mechanisms of extracellular S(0) globule production and degradation in Chlorobaculum tepidum via dynamic cell-globule interactions, Microbiology, 162:1125-1134. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000294.  

Kato, S., Ohkuma, M., Powell, D. H., Krepski, S. T., Oshima, K., Hattori, M., Shapiro, N., Woyke, T., and Chan, C. S. (2015) Comparative genomic insights into ecophysiology of neutrophilic, microaerophilic iron oxidizing bacteria, Frontiers in Microbiology, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01265

Research Interests

Geomicrobiology, biomineralization, biofilms, biosignatures, microbial genomics, biochemistry, environmental geochemistry.



• Geochemistry• Geobiology


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Earth Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences

Providing a unique spatial perspective that seeks to explain patterns of differences and commonality across the human and natural environment.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-8062
Geography and Spatial Sciences: 302-831-2294 • Earth Sciences: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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