Scholarship Committee Invites NASA Astronaut Feb 10

The HGS Scholarship Night committee is pleased to announce that we are very fortunate indeed for HGS to be able to welcome Dr. Jessica Watkins, astronaut and geoscientist, to be our speaker for the HGS Scholarship night planned for Feb 10, 2020! The event will be held the Norris Center, West Houston starting at 5:30 PM. We expect this to be a packed house. Reservations can be made on the HGS.ORG webpage link.

In recent years the HGS Scholarship Night has become a premier event for HGS. It is a night to honor outstanding students with promising futures. This year the HGS Scholarship Night committee asked ourselves: who can inform, who can uplift, and who can inspire our next generation Scholarship winners?  Our answer: Jessica Watkins. HGS continues a time-honored tradition of recognizing astronauts who are also geoscientists. Jessica is among the next generation of astronaut leaders who will one day return to the moon or walk on Mars

Jessica Watkins has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. She reported for duty in August 2017. The Colorado native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Watkins has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was a collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but considers Lafayette, Colorado her hometown. Her parents, Michael and Carolyn Watkins, still live there. In college, she was a member of Stanford Women’s Rugby as well as the USA Rugby Women’s Sevens National Team. During her postdoc, she served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Caltech Women’s Basketball team. She also enjoys soccer, rock climbing, skiing and creative writing. She graduated from Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado. Earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in Stanford, California. Earned a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

For her Ph.D. research, Watkins studied the emplacement mechanisms of large landslides on Mars and Earth through orbital data analysis and field work. While at UCLA, she was a teaching assistant for various courses in earth and planetary science. At the time of her selection in June 2017, Watkins was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, participating in daily planning of rover activities and investigating the geologic history of Gale crater, Mars. During undergraduate internships at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Watkins conducted research supporting the Phoenix Mars Lander mission and prototype Mars drill testing. She also served as chief geologist for NASA Spaceward Bound Crew 86 at the Mars Desert Research Station in 2009. As a graduate student, Watkins participated in several internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), including analysis of near-earth asteroids discovered by the NEOWISE mission in 2011, tactical and strategic planning for the Curiosity mission in 2013, and system design testing for the upcoming Mars 2020 and Mars Sample Return missions the following year. In addition, she served as a science operations team member for a Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) analog mission at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 2011 and participated in the NASA Planetary Science Summer School at JPL in 2016. Watkins reported for duty in August 2017 to begin two years of training as an Astronaut Candidate. Upon completion, she will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

Brief Recent History of the HGS Scholarship program outreach to next generation geoscientists (Jeff please add some facts and figures on the Calvert Fund.

Evelyn Medvin, our Foundation Chair, reports that the HGS Foundation will award scholarships to top Undergraduate geoscience students from 7 Texas universities. Because of the generosity of our sponsor companies, we are able to provide $3500 scholarships to 6 of the students & $4500 to our Mabe Scholar, the top scholar of the group. Please come & meet your future employee!

The HGS scholarship Night committee would especially like to recognize John Tubb for his past chairmanship of this committee. His vision has taken us to greater heights on which we build today.

Thanks to the Scholarship Night volunteers
John Tubb – Scholarship Night Advisor
Charles Sternbach – Scholarship Night Chairman
Jeff Lund – Calvert Fund Chairman
Judy Schulenberg – Calvert Secretary
Dick Bishop – Calvert Treasurer

Evelyn Medvin – Foundation Chairman
HGS Foundation Trustees:
Angela Hammond
Jacob Umbriaco
Joe Lynch, Treasurer
Kirstin Burns
Paul Hoffman
Sameer Baral
Scott Krueger
Shannon Lemke, Secretary