Professor Martin Van Kranendonk is a geologist and astrobiologist, working on some of the world’s oldest rocks and the record of life trapped therein. He is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology and has recently become involved in the search for life on Mars via NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.
Martin was born and trained in Canada, receiving his PhD in 1992 from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. After working at the Geological Survey of Canada from 1992-1994, Martin moved to Australia as an ARC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Newcastle, where he commenced research on the Pilbara. He joined the Geological Survey of Western Australia in 1997, where he worked for 15 years until the start of 2012, when he accepted a position as Professor of Geology at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, where he is currently employed and is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.
His main interests are Archean tectonics and the geological setting of early life on Earth, and he is widely published in these fields. Martin is the Chair of the Precambrian Subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, an associate editor of the journals Precambrian Research, Geology, Astrobiology, and Episodes, co-leader of IGCP 599 “Changing Early Earth”, and Core member of the International Precambrian Research Centre of China. He has appeared on numerous television and radio documentaries on early Earth, and has been involved in educational outreach programs for school children and the general public.