MDRS Director Shannon Rupert Selected for NASA STAR Program

Dr. Shannon Rupert, field ecologist and long-time director of the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah, was notified recently that she has been accepted into Cohort 3 of NASA’s STAR (Spaceflight Technology, Applications and Research) program, beginning in September 2022.

A highly competitive 5-month course, STAR is a virtual NASA program for space biosciences training, with annual courses involving principal investigators, senior research scientists, and postdoctoral scholars. The goal of STAR is to facilitate each participant’s entry into space biology and preparation for conducting spaceflight experiments using NASA and commercial platforms.

Course curriculum includes fundamental space biology and its practical applications, including technical and logistical considerations, opportunities, and the unique advantages and limitations of conducting an experiment in space. Participants will also opportunities to interact with PIs with prior mission experience, developers of spaceflight technology and flight providers.

As one of the most experienced Mars analog researchers in the global space community, Dr. Rupert is an expert in planetary mission simulations and field exploration. She was formerly a professor of biology and environmental science and is currently involved in research of the ecology of planetary analogs, in particular desert varnish. Her application to the STAR program emphasized her mentoring of students who participate in programs at MDRS and how the experience could strengthen her ability to share knowledge of biological research on spaceflights.

To learn more about MDRS, visit: mdrs.marssociety.org.