Roger Summons is a leading biogeochemist who studies both ancient sediments and modern microbes in order to better understand the co-evolution of life and the Earth’s surface environment. Ancient rocks and oils contain an abundance of information hidden within, including details of the organisms that existed at the time the organic matter was formed, which Roger exploits in his analysis. Most recently, he has worked on culture-independent methods to identify the microbial sources of informative molecular fossils.
The techniques that Roger developed are also being used in astrobiology, with the aim of detecting signs of life on other planets. In 2003, he received the prestigious Alfred Treibs Medal of the Geochemical Society, and in 2008 he was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award. He is also a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the American Geophysical Union.