Dr. Alysia Cox - Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry
Associate Professor of Environmental Chemistry
BS, Geological Sciences, summa cum laude, Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College
PhD, Chemical Oceanography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Alysia Cox joined the Chemistry & Geochemistry Department in the fall of 2015. She grew up in Michigan and moved to Arizona State University (ASU) on a National Merit Scholarship where she received her B.S. summa cum laude in the Geological Sciences with minors in Biology and German from the Barrett Honors College. Her honors thesis investigated the limits of microbial photosynthesis in hot spring ecosystems. She earned her PhD in Chemical Oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 2011. Her dissertation researched the interactions of heavy metals with marine cyanobacteria, involving trace metal analysis, metal uptake, and proteomic studies. After postdoctoral work at ASU and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Dr. Cox started the Laboratory Exploring Geobiochemical Engineering and Natural Dynamics (LEGEND) at Tech. Her research combines geochemistry with biochemistry to determine active mechanisms of chemical reactions with wide application to the environment. Her integration of proteomic techniques and geochemical context in environmental samples determines what is actively happening in the environment at a given time and place under the set of conditions present, as well as providing a framework for how life has evolved in coordination with Earth in the past. Dr. Cox led the charge to establish the new Earth Science and Engineering PhD program on campus.
Alysia likes to spend her free time with her husband and young son as well as skiing, snowboarding, packrafting, backpacking, listening and playing music, reading, and painting abstractly.
Dr. Cox's research focuses on proteins, the genome products of microbes, and their interactions with major and minor element cycles, both modern and ancient. She combines geochemistry with biochemistry to determine active mechanisms of chemical reactions with wide application to the environment. Her research integrates proteomic techniques and geochemical context in environmental samples to determine what is actively happening in the environment at a given time and place under the set of conditions present, as well as providing a framework for how life has evolved in coordination with Earth in the past. To interrogate interactions between biomolecules and the environment, she uses a combination of laboratory experiments, field investigations, and model calculations. Lab-based approaches include nutrient limitation and stress experiments, while field-based analyses include rock-dependent geochemical gradients and biological rate experiments. Ultimately, her research results will supply a theoretical, analytical, and experimental framework to explain and predict energy cycling between the biotic and abiotic processes of Earth. She works with a wide variety of systems, including terrestrial hot springs, alpine lakes and springs, marine realms, serpentinizing systems, acid mine drainage, and deep life environments.
Selected Honors & Awards
- 2019 Montana Tech Merit Award Recipient
- 2018 Frontiers Spotlight Award Finalist for Understanding the Earth’s deep carbon research topic (10 finalists out of more than 400 research topics)
- 2018 University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Chief Scientist Training Program - Deep Sea Submergence - dove in Alvin
- 2016 UNOLS Chief Scientist Training Program R/V Thompson
- 2015 2nd Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Early Career Scientist Workshop Organizing Committee
- 2014 Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Early Career Scientist Workshop Participant
- 2013 University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Chief Scientist Training Program Alternate
- 2005 MIT Presidential Graduate Fellow
- 2004 and 2005 Honorable Mention - NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
- 2004 ASU Moeur Award for academic achievement (similar to valedictorian)
- 2004 Finalist - ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honor Award
- 2004 and 2003 Biological Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship (BREU)
- 2003 Robert S. Dietz Geological Field Camp Scholarship
- 2003 Arizona Power Authority Scholarship
- 2003 ASU Geosciences Alumni Scholarship
- ASU Dean's List 2000-2004
- President of ASU Great Outdoors Student Club 2001-2004
- Awarded National Merit Scholarship 2000-2004
- Valedictorian, Saline High School, 2000
Career in Brief
- 2020-present: Associate Professor, Laboratory Exploring Geobiochemical Engineering and Natural Dynamics (LEGEND), Department of Chemistry & Geochemistry, Montana Technological University
- 2015-2020: Assistant Professor, LEGEND, Department of Chemistry & Geochemistry, Montana Technological University
- 2017-2018: Assistant Professor, LEGEND South, Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, Yachay Tech University, Ecuador
- 2015: Teacher, South Pointe High School
- 2013-2014: Postdoctoral Scholar, Group Exploring Organic Processes in Geochemistry (GEOPIG), School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University
- 2012-2013: Postdoctoral Scholar, Carbon Cycle Biogeochemistry, Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
- 2011: Postdoctoral Scholar, GEOPIG, School of Earth and Space Exploration, ASU
- 2006-2011: Graduate Research Assistant, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography
- 2005-2006: MIT Presidential Graduate Fellow, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography
- 2005: Research Assistant, Department of Paleontology, University of Michigan
- 2002-2004: Biological Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellow, Arizona State University
- 2000-2004: National Merit Scholar, Arizona State University
- CHMY 141 College Chemistry I
- CHMY 143 College Chemistry II
- CHMY 210 Survey of Organic Chemistry
- CHMY 302 Chemistry Literature
- CHMY 430/542 Environmental Organic Chemistry
- CHMY 442/540 Environmental Chemistry
- CHMY 491/5597 Geochemical Modeling
- CHMY 494W/594 Chemistry & Geochemistry Seminar
- Oceanography and Climatology
- Environmental Isotopes
Giovannelli D, Black BA, Cox AD, Sheik C. 2017. Editorial: Deep Carbon in Earth: Early Career Scientist Contributions to the Deep Carbon Observatory. Frontiers in Earth Science doi: 10.3389/feart.2017.00089.
Cox A, Noble AE, Saito MA. 2014. Enriched stable isotope uptake and Cd addition experiments with natural phytoplankton assemblages in the Costa Rica Upwelling Dome. Marine Chemistry 166: 70-81.
Cox A, Saito M. 2013. Proteomic responses of oceanic Synechococcus WH8102 to phosphate and zinc scarcity and cadmium additions. Frontiers in Microbiological Chemistry 4: 387. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00387.
Shock EL, Canovas P, Yang Z, Boyer G, Johnson K, Robinson K, Fecteau K, Windman T, Cox A. 2013. Thermodynamics of organic transformations in hydrothermal fluids. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 76: 311-350.
Cox AD. 2011. Interactions of cadmium, zinc, and phosphorus in marine Synechococcus: Field uptake, physiological and proteomic studies, PhD dissertation, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography.
Cox A, Shock EL, Havig JR. 2011. The transition to microbial photosynthesis in hot spring ecosystems. Chemical Geology 280: 344-351.