Fei Chen


Office: 818-393-6386


Fei Chen received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Beijing University in China and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Southern California. She was a senior research fellow at California Institute of Technology before she joined the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her current projects include developing aseptic assembly techniques and sterilization capabilities for future Mars and Europa missions; and studying the survival and reproduction of microbes at low water activity with salts relevant to Mars and icy satellites. She is also on the Planetary Protection implementation team for the Mars 2020 Mission.

Research Interests

  • Developing and evaluating advanced technologies for cleaning and sterilization of trace levels of bio-signature molecules and spores on spacecraft materials.
  • Applying cutting-edge molecular techniques to study microbial diversity in spacecraft assembly facilities.
  • Studying the survival and reproduction of microbes at low water activity with salts relevant to Mars and icy satellites.

Professional Experience

2001-present, Planetary Protection Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

1999-2001, Senior Research Fellow, Biology Department, California Institute of Technology.

1996-1999, Biology Department, California Institute of Technology.

Selected Awards

NASA Group Achievement Award, “For exceptional performance in the rigorous evaluation and rapid synthesis of a development strategy for the Mars Sample Return Planetary Protection technology.” 2012.

Mars Exploration Directorate Mariner Award, “For excellence in preparation for and participation in the first NASA-ESA Joint Planetary Protection Workshop.” 2008.

Mars Exploration Directorate Ranger Bonus Award, “in recognition of her leadership responsibility in fulfilling the goals and objectives of three separate research and development tasks for the Mars Exploration Program.” 2007.

Mars Exploration Directorate Team Award, “ In recognition of outstanding work in completion of the Fast Assay Technology for Planetary Protection.” 2005.

Selected Publications

Chen, Fei, et al. "Rapid micro-detection system for the enumeration of bacterial endospores." 2006 IEEE Aerospace Conference. IEEE, 2006.

Crisler, James D., et al. "Bacterial growth at the high concentrations of magnesium sulfate found in Martian soils." Astrobiology 12.2 (2012): 98-106.

Kempf, Michael J., et al. "Recurrent isolation of hydrogen peroxide-resistant spores of Bacillus pumilus from a spacecraft assembly facility." Astrobiology5.3 (2005): 391-405.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, et al. "Bacillus nealsonii sp. nov., isolated from a spacecraft-assembly facility, whose spores are γ-radiation resistant."International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology 53.1 (2003): 165-172.

CL#: 17-1953, 18-1585

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