Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath

Associate Professor of Geoscience
Expertise: Mars geochemistry, Water-rock interactions, Astrobiology, Snow dynamics


Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath is an aqueous geochemist and astrobiologist who investigates interactions between water and minerals, and the impacts of life on those interactions. She and her team use a combination of field work, laboratory experiments, and modeling to investigate signatures of aqueous alteration and life, the rates at which water-rock interactions occur, and how they differ on Earth and on other planets such as Mars. Their work helps understand chemical weathering, water chemistry, nutrient release, the formation of soils, and potential signatures of life on Earth and Mars.

Hausrath and her team also explore snow dynamics, particularly the interactions between snow algae, microorganisms, and minerals in the nutrient-poor environment present in snow, which may also be an analog to Mars.

Hausrath serves on NASA's Returned Sample Science Board, which offers scientific input into aspects of the upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission.


  • Dual-Title Ph.D. Program in Geosciences and Astrobiology, Penn State University
  • Sc.B Geology-Chemistry, Brown University

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Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath In The News

Las Vegas Review Journal
October 28, 2019
Geoscience professor Libby Hausrath is one of 10 scientists chosen by NASA to select and analyze soil samples from the Mars 2020 mission set to launch in July.
Las Vegas Review Journal
October 25, 2019
If there was ever life on Mars, UNLV researcher Elisabeth “Libby” Hausrath will be one of the first to know.
El Tiempo
October 25, 2019
If there were life on Mars, the UNLV researcher, Elisabeth “Libby” Hausrath, would be one of the first to know. The geoscience professor is one of the 10 scientists chosen by NASA to select and analyze soil samples from the “Mars 2020” mission that will be launched in July.
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 24, 2019
In the year 2031, a rocket packed with Martian rocks and soil samples will launch from the surface of the Red Planet.

Articles Featuring Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath

Two women stand in front of an image of a Martian rover
ResearchMay 19, 2020
Pair of geoscience professors at the forefront of UNLV’s contributions to Mars exploration, but plenty more academics are involved in the Red Planet.
UNLV professor Matthew Lachniet works in his lab on campus.
PeopleDecember 27, 2019
A collection of stories highlighting UNLV faculty and students who made the news in 2019.
People preparing to cut ribbon on new Fertitta Complex
Campus NewsNovember 1, 2019
A collection of local, national, and international news stories highlighting the people and programs of UNLV.
UNLV Professor Libby Hausrath
ResearchOctober 21, 2019
Libby Hausrath is one of just 10 scientists selected for NASA’s returned sample science team; will help decide which samples return to Earth from Mars 2020 mission.