The Road to Mission Science: Seminars for Students and Early Career Researchers

August 18, 2022

The Road to Mission Science: Seminars for Students and Early Career Researchers

NASA is sending spacecraft to study objects throughout the solar system! With support from the ChemCam instrument team on the Mars Curiosity mission, the LPI is hosting informational webinars for students and early career researchers who have an interest in becoming involved in current or future planetary missions. Undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and early career scientists are invited to join us for a discussion of how to prepare, both academically and professionally, for a career in mission science. We will also share opportunities for getting involved!

This virtual event features a panel of mentors and mission scientists who have contributed to missions including Mars Curiosity and Perseverance, InSight, MAVEN, and more! They will share their backgrounds, experiences, and recommendations. As we strive to increase the awareness and accessibility of mission science careers, we will describe ongoing and upcoming missions, roles within missions, and ways that students can become involved. These seminars will also provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions and make connections with mission scientists.

The next event in this series will be a 90-minute virtual seminar on Thursday, September 15, at 3 p.m. EDT / 2 p.m. CDT / 1 p.m. MDT / 12 p.m. PDT. The webinar will be recorded and available online on LPI’s YouTube channel.

Register      YouTube Live  

Check out the Resource Packet. It contains information about mission science, internships, fellowships, scholarships, awards, and more.

Meet the Panel
Dr. Amy Williams
Dr. Amy Williams

Dr. Amy Williams is an Assistant Professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Florida, and a science team member on the NASA Mars Curiosity and Perseverance rover missions. Her research focuses on the interaction between microbial life, the geochemical environment, and the rock record on Earth, and how to recognize habitable environments and potentially preserved microbial life on Mars. She joined the Curiosity mission as a PhD student, then joined the SAM instrument team for her postdoc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She continues to search for and characterize organic carbon on Mars with the SAM team on Curiosity. On Perseverance she is a long term planner and Jezero Delta campaign lead. She has a PhD in geology from the University of California, Davis; a master’s in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the University of New Mexico and a bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science from Furman University.

Dr. Bruce Banerdt
Dr. Bruce Banerdt

Dr. Bruce Banerdt is a planetary geophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Principal Investigator of the InSight mission. Dr. Banerdt uses gravity, magnetic, topographic, and seismic data to study the interiors of terrestrial planets and explore the geologic history of Mars. He has participated in several planetary flight instrument teams, including the MOLA altimeters on Mars Observer and Mars Global Surveyor, the SAR on Magellan, and the Seismometer on the CNES NetLander mission, and he served as Project Scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for six years. Dr. Banerdt has served on a number of NASA and National Academy of Sciences advisory panels on planetary and space science and has published over 75 journal articles, reports and book chapters. He holds a B.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Southern California and has worked in the Earth and Space Sciences Division of JPL since 1977.

Patrick Gasda
Patrick Gasda

Patrick Gasda received his bachelor's in Chemistry from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania in 2007. He worked in industry for two years until going back to school in 2009. He studied astrobiology, geochemistry, and spectroscopy at the University of Hawaii and received his PhD from UH in 2014. In 2015, Patrick started as a postdoc at Los Alamos National Laboratory and converted to staff scientist at Los Alamos in 2018. Since 2015, Patrick has been a science collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory and ChemCam team and has more recently (in 2021) joined the M2020 mission as part of the SuperCam science team. For these missions, Patrick has worked on instrument calibration and studies diagenetic and evaporative features on Mars, and he is involved in mission operations as the Science Payload Uplink Lead for both the ChemCam and SuperCam instruments.

Nick Schneider
Nick Schneider

Nick Schneider is a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He leads the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph Team on NASA's MAVEN mission to Mars. He received his PhD from the Lunar & Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona in 1988, where he also did a postdoc. In 1990 he joined the faculty in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado and holds a research appointment in CU's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his MAVEN research, and the Emmons Award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an international award for undergraduate astronomy education. With Jeff Bennett, Megan Donahue, and Mark Voit, he co-authored the most widely-used textbook in astronomy: The Cosmic Perspective.


Learn more about the previous seminars and find the recordings.

Please contact Grace Beaudoin (gbeaudoin@lpi.usra.edu) with questions about this event.

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