NASA Focus Group Features
I edit (along with Andrew Pohorille of NASA Ames/UCSF) of a series of articles for the NASA Origins of Life Astrobiology Focus Group from investigators in the field. These essays are aimed at an undergraduate level. Typically, they are written about recent discoveries from the authors’ research, and they are intended to communicate advances in astrobiology to those outside the field. A list of a few recent articles from the website can be found here.
During my undergraduate and graduate training, I was involved in the development of teaching experiments for two K-12 outreach programs.
I’m College Bound!
I’m College Bound! is a program my undergraduate research mentor at Arizona State University, Prof. Ian Gould, initiated with his wife, Deena Gould, an instructor at Kino Junior High School in Mesa, AZ. Kino is a Title I school with 90% free/reduced lunch. Among high-achieving students with non-college-educated parents, rates of college attendance are one-fourth that of those with college-educated parents. This program aims to help close the gap in college attendance through interaction between high school students and college students and instructors. From 2004-2005, I was involved in the development of teaching experiments and demonstrations for this program.
Center for Chemical Evolution
I was involved with the early development of chemistry for a teaching laboratory in a summer program (2008) with two K-12 teachers visiting Georgia Tech as part of the Center for Chemical Evolution. This team, led by high school instructor Lakshmi Anumukonda, went on to develop a full protocol and publish their teaching lab in the Journal of Chemical Education. The laboratory Anumukonda and colleagues developed involved obtaining the nucleobase adenine from two sources: isolation from strawberries and preparation from formamide by heating. Students then go on to use chromatography to analyze these samples and show that the same biomolecule can be obtained from living or non-living sources. Thus, they are educated in chromatography, as well as a simple reaction with potential relevance to life’s origins.