Tharika Liyanage

PhD Candidate
Bachelor of Science, Masters of Earth Sciences (Advanced)

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I seek to understand whether the Earth and life on it are unique – how did life emerge and survive the changing environmental conditions on this planet? Is it possible that life could have arisen elsewhere in our universe? To address these questions, I study Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history preserved in the rock record. As a paleobiogeochemist, I search for the earliest traces of single-celled life that are preserved as fossilised biomolecules, called biomarkers. It is so cool that we can use biomarkers to reconstruct microbial ecosystems and environments in Earth’s early history! However, there are missing links between some biomarkers and microorganisms, resulting in inaccurate reconstructions of Earth's past ecosystems and environments. I am currently pursuing a PhD investigating some of these missing links.

Check out my 3 Minute Thesis and vote in the People's Choice poll for the Asia Pacific semi-final competition!




science Research area

Teaching information

Lab demonstrator for EMSC1006: Blue Planet, ANU (2015, 2016, 2018) 

Teaching assisstant for EMSC3020: Geobiology and Evolution of Life on Earth, ANU (2018-2021)

meriSTEM presenter,

Learning Programs Presenter at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre


Ngunnawal and Ngambri country


Brocks, J.J., Jarrett, A.J., Sirantoine, E., Hallmann, C., Hoshino, Y. and Liyanage, T., 2017. The rise of algae in Cryogenian oceans and the emergence of animals. Nature548(7669), p.578.

1st place in ANU's 3 Minute Thesis Competition, 1st place and People's Choice at the Colleges of Science 3MT competition