Local Student Selected for Internship at the University of Texas to Assist Nasa Scientists

By: Margaret Baguio
| Published 07/30/2020

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THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Vanessa Vaz, a rising junior from The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, Texas, has been selected for the prestigious Student Enhancement in Earth and Space Science (SEES) summer internship hosted by The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Space Research. This nationally competitive program sponsored by NASA’s Texas Space Grant Consortium selects students to conduct authentic research using NASA data. Investigations are being conducted as part of Mosquito Mappers, a SEES team co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) under the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative project.

Mosquito Mappers receive training from NASA scientists, led by GLOBE Observer scientist Dr. Russanne Low, IGES, on safety procedures, mosquito ecology and habitat, larva identification, land cover classification and satellite data analysis. Each intern devotes 10-15 hours a week in June and July participating in weekly data explorations, developing and implementing a research design, and collaborating with NASA subject matter experts.

Mosquitoes cause millions of cases of disease in humans every year but seasonal habitat monitoring can provide early warning of potential disease outbreaks. Using the GLOBE Observer citizen science app and a microscope that clips onto their mobile device, student scientists can report actual and potential mosquito habitats they identify on the landscape. Paired with satellite observations of temperature, water and vegetation, these data can support scientists forecasting a community’s risk of mosquito-borne disease.
SEES high school interns work with scientists and engineers to conduct authentic research using NASA data and analysis tools. Teams are organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from NASA’s diverse engineering and scientific research programs. SEES sponsored several team challenges this summer, including designing Mars habitats, exploring lunar environments, tracing COVID-19 using NASA technologies, and examining the relationship of observed mosquito habitats to land cover and environmental data obtained from satellites.

The SEES internship provides an outlet for the excitement many students feel about Earth and space science. Interns are offered a unique opportunity to work with professional scientists and engineers at the cutting edge of NASA science, experience being part of a science team, and explore STEM career options firsthand.
GLOBE Observer is part of the International GLOBE Program. Using this free mobile app, anyone in one of the 123 GLOBE countries can take observations and contribute data. GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper and Land Cover observations from the public provide additional data for student research projects and help to make a difference. Download GLOBE Observer from the App Store or Google Play and learn more at observer.globe.gov/

The STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES) project is supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) cooperative agreements NNX16AB89A to the University of Texas Austin for the STEM Enhancement in Earth Science (SEES), and NNX16AE28A to the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) for the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC) for the SEES Mosquito Mappers Team.

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