Darlene Lim headshot photo

Darlene Lim

Science/Data Team
Senior Scientist

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I began my academic career conducting limnological and paleolimnological surveys of freshwater systems in polar regions and then evolved this research to include planetary and human spaceflight applications. I am now based at the NASA Ames Research Center and actively involved in the development of operational concepts for human scientific exploration of our solar system.  

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Thinking back to the very beginning, two things got me on my way: 1) spending time outside in the Canadian Rockies and 2) watching TV. So, watching TV...Jacques Cousteau's documentaries had a monumental influence on my life and my love of science and exploration. Happily, when I was young that was what was on TV...wonder what would have happened if I had binged on say, well, "fill in the blanks with 2018 programming here". :-) Back in college, I took an amazing class on limnology (the study of freshwater systems) that was taught by John Smol at Queen's University. His passion for the subject and the required interplay between chemistry, physics, biology, and geology to address limnological questions was immediately impactful to me. Plus to do the work, you had to go to some amazing, remote locations around the world. That got me started on the aquatic sciences, and from there I worked in a variety of extreme environments, got involved with analog research, made my way to NASA and now have come full circle back to my childhood love of the ocean as I prepare to work on the Nautilus. 

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My family

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

Everything - absolutely everything

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I've been leading teams since I was 15 years old and field teams of varying sizes and complexities since 1993. Plus straight out of college, I worked as an advertising account executive for slightly over 2 years. That provided me with valuable project management experience that I draw upon to this day AND the knowledge that my true passion lies in science and exploration.

What are your degrees and certifications?

BSc Biology, Queen's University, Canada; MSc Geology, University of Toronto, Ph.D. Geology, University of Toronto 2004; Deepworker Submersible Pilot; Private Pilot's License (fixed wing); PADI Diver, 

What are your hobbies?


What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Stay curious

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?

We received a NASA PSTAR program grant and support from the NOAA Office of OER to conduct analog science, science operations and technology research on the Nautilus.


Darlene participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions:

Selected Publications


Chan, E.W., Alanis, B.A., German C.R., Lim, D.S.S., Breier, J.A. (2023). Oxygen and hydrogen isotopic evidence that Kamaʻehuakanaloa (Lōʻihi) Seamount hydrothermal systems are recharged by deep Pacific seawater. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers…
Milesi, V., Shock, E., Seewald, J., Trembath-Reichert, E., Sylva, S.P., Huber, J.A., Lim, D.S.S, German, C.R. (2023). Multiple parameters enable deconvolution of water-rock reaction paths in low-temperature vent fluids of the Kamaʻehuakanaloa (Lōʻihi) seamount. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 348: 54-67.…