Eric Weingarten, a second year Ph.D. student in Dr. Colin Jackson’s lab, has been named a 2017-18 NASA/Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellow. The Mississippi Space Grant Consortium (MSSGC) is a NASA-supported organization of 16 state universities and colleges with the goal of, “enhancing and supporting aerospace science and technology efforts and activities in Mississippi as well as promoting a strong science, mathematics, and technology base at precollege, undergraduate, and graduate levels.”
Weingarten studies microbial ecophysiology, particularly bacterial community response to stresses such as high salinity which are common in the extreme environments of Mars, the ocean moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and Earth environments impacted by climate change.
Weingarten was one of only eight award recipients across the state, is the only awardee from the University of Mississippi, and is also the only biologist represented.
In addition to supporting continued graduate research, the award calls on fellows to engage in K-12 outreach. Weingarten plans to work with the science faculty at Oxford High School to design classroom activities that will prepare and encourage students to pursue STEM in college and in their careers.
“I look forward to spreading awareness of NASA’s ongoing missions and sharing with students what STEM research they can be involved with early in their career,” said Weingarten. “Having been a teaching assistant for several of the undergraduate biology courses, I also want to help students better prepare for their college curriculum.”
To learn more about the Mississippi Space Grant Consortium, visit msspacegrant.org.