University of Cincinnati
I wholeheartedly nominate my graduate student, Andrew Gangidine, for the Maggie C. Turnbull Early Career Service Award. Andrew is an exemplary graduate student who is working on an astrobiology project for his Ph.D. titled “Trace elements as a novel biosignature for life on early Earth and Mars.” He recently passed his qualifying exam to become a Ph.D. candidate. The biosignature Andrew is developing for this project is quite exciting and would greatly advance the field of Precambrian paleobiology and Astrobiology, and is extremely relevant to NASA’s priorities. In addition to being relevant to specific NASA goals of finding answers to how old life is on Earth and whether or not life began on another planet in our solar system, these questions are of great interest to society. Therefore the work Andrew is doing translates well into public talks and outreach programs that inspire future generations to seek out answers about life on Earth and in the cosmos. And it also happens that Andrew is gifted at outreach, is passionate about space science and astrobiology, and loves to share this passion with the community. He has designed an outreach activity hosted through the Earth Science Outreach Program for the Greater Cincinnati Area titled “Life in the Universe,” which he presents to local middle and high school aged students. The presentation consists of a hands-on activities observing live bacteria, fossil samples, and explaining the active search for such signs of life in our own solar system. Andrew feels that outreach activities such as this will foster interest and enthusiasm among students for the sciences, and encourage the students to consider similar fields for their futures. I affirm that I had nothing to do with these activities. He took it upon himself to create this program and has been very successful. Carl Sagan is one of Andrew’s professional heroes and he has the same enthusiasm and love of science that Sagan had.