AFFILIATES

WILLIAM BRINCKERHOFF | Affiliate

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

William Brinckerhoff is a senior scientist in the Solar System Exploration Division at Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Brinckerhoff has served as PI, deputy PI, or Co-I for several NASA instrument development awards concerning mass spectrometers and sample handling systems for future missions to planetary bodies. He currently serves as Project Scientist for the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) instrument on the 2020 ExoMars mission and as Co-I for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) investigation on the Curiosity rover and for the Dragonfly mission to Titan. Dr. Brinckerhoff also has strong interests in small body geochemistry, planetary mission design, and astrobiology, serving as PI of a project studying hypervelocity impact-induced organic synthesis and as Co-I in the Goddard Center for Astrobiology team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

MATTHEW FRICKE | Affiliate

UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO

 

Matthew Fricke is Research Faculty in the University of New Mexico (UNM) Computer Science Department and the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing. His doctorate in Computer Science is from UNM, where he focused on artificial intelligence, computational biology, and complex systems. He was previously in the Theoretical Biology Group at the Center for Non-Linear Systems at Los Alamos National Labs. His research focuses on abstracting our understanding of life away from the particular example we encounter every day here on Earth. Computational tools such as large-scale modelling and artificial intelligence provide a new lens through which we can examine life as it could be elsewhere in the Universe.

XIANG LI | Affiliate

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

Xiang Li received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in 2009. He is an associate research scientist with a joint appointment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. His research focuses on the detection of trace elements and astrobiologically relevant organic molecules in planetary systems, such as Mars, Europa and Titan. He is especially interested in the instrument development of time-of-flight and ion trap mass spectrometers with various ionization and ion gating techniques.

PEDRO METOLA | Affiliate

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

Pedro Metola is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he runs the Accelerated Research Initiative undergraduate laboratory. He received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, and, after he completed a postdoctoral stay at the University of Kansas, started his undergraduate laboratory in Texas. Pedro’s lab directs its efforts to the development and implementation of several sensing protocols and analytical devices to address both benchtop and biomedical questions, as well as the exploration of new approaches to selective molecular recognition. Pedro’s student lab has been instrumental in testing and standardizing the sample preparation and chemical analysis methods for the Reference Sample Set.

MELANIE MOSES | Affiliate

UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO

Melanie Moses is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico. Melanie holds a BS in symbolic systems from Stanford University and a PhD in biology from the University of New Mexico. She studies complex biological and information systems, the scaling properties of networks, and the general rules governing the acquisition of energy and information in complex adaptive systems. Her focus is on the efficiency of growth and information exchange in biological and computational networks, and how the size and topology of networks determine emergent system behavior.

ALEXANDRA PONTEFRACT | Affiliate

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Alexandra Pontefract is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University, and has a M.Sc. in Biology from McMaster University and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Western Ontario. She is a geomicrobiologist interested in habitat generation through impact bombardment, life in cold and salty environments, as well as life-detection techniques and instrumentation. Dr. Pontefract has extensive Arctic field experience, and has served as science and instrument lead on several analog mission deployments. Currently she is working on biosignature detection in a range of hypersaline environments, specifically focusing on the limits of life as they pertain to water activity and chaotropicity, and is also pursuing research on the habitability of impact shocked basalts.

SARA WALKER | Affiliate

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

Sara Walker is an astrobiologist and theoretical physicist interested in the origin of life and how to find life on other worlds. She is most interested in whether or not there are ‘laws of life’ - related to how information structures the physical world - that could universally describe life here on Earth and be used to predict its properties on other planets. At Arizona State University she is Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, Associate Director of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems and Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. She is also Co-founder of the astrobiology-themed social website SAGANet.org, and is a member of the Blue Marble Space Institute for Science.

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