AFFILIATES

JULIE BEVILACQUA| Affiliate

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Julie Bevilacqua is a research technician in the Johnson Biosignatures Lab at Georgetown University, where she studies the microbial ecology of several Mars analog environments and works with the Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures to provide both administrative and scientific support. Her other research interests include the applications of new technologies to campaigns in low-resource environments, particularly field testing of sequencing technologies. Julie graduated with a BS from Georgetown University, where she studied Biology of Global Health and English and fostered her interest in how those two fields could inform one another. 

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.

ANGELA CHUNG | Affiliate

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

Angela Chung joined the Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures as a laboratory research associate. She has a M.Sc. in Geosciences from Pennsylvania State University and a M.Sc. in Geology and Environmental Science from University of Pittsburgh. Her interests lie in studying the fate and transport of biogeochemically important compounds through stable isotopes. Previously Angela focused on factors affecting organic carbon isotope signals and sources of nitrogen in surface water in urban areas. Now she is working on characterizing reference samples as well as examining nitrogen dynamics of amino acids in Mars analog cave biofilms. 

VICTORIA DA POIAN | Affiliate

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

Victoria Da Poian is an aerospace engineer working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. As a kid, growing up in Indian Ocean, Eastern Europe and then in France, Victoria has always been interested in space exploration and manned missions. This passion made her choose ISAE-Supaero, the top French Engineering school for Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, after preparatory classes, where she received her Master of Sciences. Victoria uses computational and machine learning techniques to develop science autonomy for planetary science missions such as the ExoMars mission (launched to Mars in 2022) and also for the detection of life in astrobiology and solar system exploration. Victoria’s main research interests are the use of multidisciplinary approaches to help develop a better understanding of life and habitable planetary environments as well as the design and conception of advanced instruments for exploration manned or unmanned missions.

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.

CHAD POZARYCKI | Affiliate

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Chad Pozarycki is a research technician at Georgetown University, where he is continuing the work he started as a post-baccaulareate fellow at NASA Goddard on developing standard desalting procedures for preparation of field samples. His current LAB project includes development of targetless desalting protocols and the evaluation of potentially sterile billion-year-old subsurface brines. His work outside LAB includes experiment optimization for organics detection on Curiosity’s SAM instrument and a meta-analysis of natural biologically sterile and polyextreme locations on earth. Chad received a B.S. in Astronomy & Astrophysics from Penn State. He is looking towards graduate programs and has interests in Mars and ocean world exploration missions, limits of habitability and life detection research, and hopes to have an opportunity for field work.

ULYSSE PRIETO | Affiliate

INSA TOULOUSE

Ulysse Prieto is an applied mathematics engineering student specializing in numerical methods from INSA Toulouse, a French engineering university. Ulysse was always fascinated by optimization, algorithms and complexity. Using graph theory, computational, and statistical methods, Ulysse's main research interest is centered around chemical complexity, especially trying to understand the similarities, discrepancies, and the type of information conveyed by different molecular complexity indices. He is also interested in applying machine learning techniques to try to solve problems related to mass spectrometry data, in particular how this class of problem solving methods compares to more classical ones.

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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