The primary goal of Darby Dyar's research is to understand how hydrogen and oxygen are distributed throughout our solar system, particularly in terrestrial bodies such as the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and the parent bodies of meteorites. Dyar uses Mössbauer, reflectance, Raman, synchrotron, and LIBS spectroscopies. She studies rocks from diverse localities on Earth from the deep oceans to Antarctica, as well as lunar rocks and meteorite samples.
Dyar has written more than 200 papers in scientific journals and has been awarded more than $4.1 million in 30 diverse grants from NASA and NSF. These include support for her participation on the Mars Science Laboratory science team; its calibration target was built at the College. She also serves on three of the eight NASA Solar System Exploration Virtual Institutes. She is pioneering development of novel machine learning techniques for interpretation of spectroscopic data. In 2016, Dyar received the G. K. Gilbert Award from the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America for outstanding contributions to the solution of fundamental problems in planetary geology. She is a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and has served as Associate Editor of The American Mineralogist for the past 20 years.
Dyar’s research program supports 6-8 Mount Holyoke undergraduate researchers in her Mineral Spectroscopy Laboratory each year, as well as other students from the Five College Astronomy Department. Those students work closely with research staff and post-docs at the College as well as several graduate students at the University of Massachusetts. Dyar and her students represent the College at various national and international conferences each year as well as various alumnae groups.
- "Delving into data from Mars," Office of Communications and Marketing, June 23, 2016
- "Video: Professor Darby Dyar discusses Mars Research," Office of Communications and Marketing, October 14, 2015
- "MHC Professor Darby Dyar discusses her research at TEDxSpringfield," Office of Communications and Marketing, October 13, 2015
- "Dyar Talks to Republican about Life on Moon," Springfield Republican, January 21, 2014
- "MHC's Dyar Talks to ABC 40 about NASA Work," Office of Communications, January 10, 2014
- "Darby Dyar Heads for Outer Space—Virtually," Office of Communications, December 30, 2013
- "Dyar Talks to Globe About Life on Mars," Boston Globe, December 9, 2013
- "Darby Dyar," People Profile, Solar System Exploration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, February 13, 2013
- "Curious About Life: Interview with Darby Dyar," Astrobiology Magazine, December 13, 2012
- "Dyar on Academic Minute and NEPR," WAMC The Academic Minute, August 20, 2012
- "MHC's Darby Dyar Plays Key Role in Mars Curiosity Mission," Office of Communications, August 6, 2012
- "Darby Dyar on being a good scientific citizen and managing work time," Women in Planetary Science, October 29, 2010
- "MHC's Dyar on Academic Minute," WAMC The Academic Minute, October 12, 2010
- "New idea surfaces on origin of moon’s water," Space.com, October 6, 2009
- "MHC's Dyar Receives Grant from NASA," Office of Communications, September 14, 2009
- "Moonstruck: How the 'Giant Leap for Mankind' 40 Years Ago Inspired a Mount Holyoke Astronomer," Office of Communications, July 16, 2009
- "MHC's Dyar Rocks the Web," Office of Communications, April 9, 2009
- "MHC's Cool New Course," Office of Communications, August 9, 2007
- "Profesor Dyar Gains NASA Grants," Office of Communications, April 12, 2006
- "An Out-of-this-World Interview with Darby Dyar," College Street Journal, December 13, 2002
- "It Came from Mars! Geologist Darby Dyar Analyzes Martian Meteorite Fragments for Clues about the Red Planet," College Street Journal, October 30, 1998