I have two wonderful pieces of news to share: First, I am returning to graduate school, and second, I have been accepted into the NASA Ames Graduate Co-op Program!
On grad school
Two weeks ago I returned to the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) to complete my Ph.D. in Earth & Planetary Sciences. It is something I have thought about for some time, and with my experiences the last few years and some fantastic mentors, I realized that the time is now. No better time to work towards your dreams than right now!
My interest in completing the Ph.D. includes several factors. First, my wonderful work experiences in the last few years made me realize how much I miss actually doing science and that I really to be where the action is. Second, I have had a lot of fun the past two years, with one highlight being international science partnerships. I wondered if getting a Ph.D. would limit the scope of what I want to do, but one of my wonderful bosses pointed out that the Ph.D. would only open more doors in this and other realms, and allow me to do these kinds of things at a more impactful level. Third, completing the Ph.D. will allow me to do things not possible with a Ph.D. at all, particularly conducting my own research and contributing towards science missions that travel to other worlds. Finally, I originally went to graduate school to get my Ph.D. (for a couple of reasons just described), and left post-qualifying exam to explore other things, obtaining my Masters in the process. However, I always had a sense of incompletion. The Ph.D. is definitely something that would still prove invaluable to me, and the sense of completion is something I eagerly anticipate and that drives me to move forward.
My Ph.D. thesis will be studying triggers of an active hydrologic cycle on Mars, particularly in the past, using a Mars General Circulation Model (a 3D climate model). At UCSC my advisor is Erik Asphaug, who with every conversation makes me think of entirely new concepts and lets the scientific imagination soar. My NASA Ames advisor is Anthony Colaprete, who is remarkably good at balancing guidance and independence as a mentor. I am very thankful to be working with both of them!
On the Ames Graduate Co-op Program
I feel very honored to have been selected for the NASA Ames Graduate Co-op program. This work-study program is unique is that it offers both research and leadership experiences. I am excited to get to know the other students in the program and strive to realize this opportunity to the fullest extent possible. I have been in love with Ames for years, and look forward to the next evolution of my time here.
As part of the program, I will work half of my time at NASA Ames. My current schedule is to be at UCSC on Tuesdays and Fridays, and at NASA Ames the rest of the week. I will continue living in the South Bay, but look forward to spending more time in Santa Cruz. I am learning to really appreciate Santa Cruz with fresh eyes!
As I brush up on the latest Mars research and get back into the grad student mentality, I give thanks for many things. In particular I want to thank my wonderful mentors, including many at my current workplace. In particular I want to call out Barry Blumberg, an amazing person who passed away last week. I was lucky to have known such an absolutely brilliant person, and so thankful for the greatest gift from him: having him believe in me. I will miss you Barry!