Edwards remembered for research

Katrina Edwards, Dornsife professor of biological sciences and earth sciences and founding director for the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) passed away on Oct. 26 after battling a long illness. She was 46.

“Katrina was a tenacious and enthusiastic practitioner of interdisciplinary science, with a clear vision of fundamental questions in geobiology,” the C-DEBI Executive Committee, Jan Amend, Julie Huber, Steve D’Hondt, Andy Fisher and Geoff Wheat, wrote in a statement. “She also had an innate ability to build and lead strong teams, to nurture a community of young researchers and educators, and to secure the resources necessary to accomplish her important goals.”

Edwards, whose colleagues remember her as a gifted scientist and transformative researcher, established C-DEBI in 2009 with the support of a $29 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Edwards and her USC team partnered with several major research universities and national laboratories to create the center.

“She has always been an exceptional leader, and always able to rally the troops especially with this center,” C-DEBI Managing Director Rosalynn Sylvan said. “It’s such a large institution across different universities in the country, and she was so great at getting people integrated and excited about what were doing.”

While serving as principal investigator and founding director of C-DEBI, Edwards led expeditions in the North Atlantic Ocean to collect data on subseafloor microbes, and their role in shaping the oceans and crust of the Earth, according to a USC Dornsife statement.

Edwards’ research efforts include serving on many integrated ocean drilling program steering committees. She also led NSF’s Fe-Oxidizing Microbial Observatory Project on Loihi Seamount, according Dornsife’s statement.

“She mobilized people to think of the unexplored potential of the ocean. [She]  wanted to capture the energy that propelled people to get to the moon in the 1960s, and use that same energy to explore our own planet,” said C-DEBI Diversity Director Cynthia Joseph.

Edwards is survived by her three children, Ania, Katya and Nakita Webb; her parents Timothy and Sandra; her siblings Ben, Melanie and Nina; and many nieces and nephews, according to USC News.

Edwards’ friends, family and colleagues have created a memorial website to honor her legacy.