Postdoctoral Fellows and Students


PLANETARY PROTECTION





Meet our Team

JPL's BPP Group includes more than 15 scientists, engineers, and technicians, who are researchers and flight project implementation specialists. To support research and flight implementation tasks, the group supplements the workforce throughout the year with postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. Collectively, the group has extensive expertise in planetary protection implementation, research and technology development, microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, classical and molecular microbial taxonomy, physics, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, probability analysis, research design, biosensor technology, biomedical engineering, and space instrument engineering.


Ganesh Babu Malli Mohan  |  Postdoctoral Scholar

Program: Caltech Postdoctoral Scholars at JPL

Ganesh received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry from Sourashtra College, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India. He consecutively began his research career as a junior research fellow in Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, where he received his Ph.D. in Microbiology. His thesis work involved basic microbiology with genomic and proteomic approach which lead to understanding the bacterial physiology and bacterial synthesis of silver nanoparticles. He then joined as a postdoctoral fellow in The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. His research focused in the field of microbial cell biology, microbial development, cell to cell communication (via bacterial nanotubes), multicellularity and colony formation. He joined the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at Caltech-Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a postdoctoral scholar. Here, his research project includes molecular microbial monitoring, omics characterization, and enumerating the biological fallout associated with clean room dust particles by utilizing various microscopic techniques.


Nitin Kumar Singh  |  Postdoctoral Scholar

Program: Caltech Postdoctoral Scholars at JPL

Nitin completed his Bachelors and Masters in Biotechnology from University of Bikaner, India. He joined CSIR-IMTECH, foremost Microbiology lab in India, to pursue his PhD. As a PhD student he worked on Polyphasic study of Nosocomial and environmental isolates of Genus Acinetobacter. Within the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group, he is involved in two projects: ISS-MO and MOP. Research is collectively focused on Genomic and metagenomics analysis of microbial samples from ISS, which includes gene prediction, annotation, network analysis, functional description, novel species description, study of pathogenicity and devising counter mechanism to deal with pathogenicity.


Camilla Urbaniak  |  Postdoctoral Scholar

Program: NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP)

Camilla is interested in how space travel affects the microbiome of astronauts and the implications of these microbial changes on the health of these individuals.  She will be analyzing samples collected from crew members aboard the ISS to monitor these changes. She is also involved in characterizing the microbiome of extreme built environments and how these bacterial and fungal communities impact the (i) health of the inhabitants and the (ii) structural integrity of the infrastructure


Adriana Blachowicz  |  Intern

Program: NASA Undergraduate Internship Program

Adriana graduated from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Poland with a Master’s degree in biotechnology. Currently she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. The projects she works on are a joint initiative between JPL and USC, to understand the impact of microgravity and enhanced radiation on various fungal species.


Raffaele Gradini  |  Intern

Program: JPL Visiting Student Research Program (JVSRP)

Raffaele is an Italian master student/researcher from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Moscow, Russia). He joined JPL under JVSRP while doing his master thesis. Before moving to Moscow to join the Space System Engineering program at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, he graduated in Aerospace Engineering at the university of Rome La Sapienza.

His research focuses on two areas: Gamma Irradiation as a validated sterilization technique for Mars Special Region, and the diffusion of Vapor Hydrogen Peroxide in electronics boxes. For both projects he carried several experimental campaigns to update and enlarge JPL’s current sterilization capabilities for missions to come.


Anne M Lynch  |  Intern

Program: NASA Undergraduate Internship Program

Anne is an undergraduate intern in her final semester at California State University Los Angeles, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Throughout her years as a student she has been consistently engaged in biotechnological research. Most of her undergraduate research was highly focused in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. With astrobiology becoming a growing interest to her, she was fortunate enough to be granted an internship in the NASA Undergraduate Internship Program. At JPL she has shifted her knowledge of biochemistry and cell biology to microbial work where she examines dry heat microbial removal of embedded bacterial spores under the guidance of principle investigator Wayne Schubert. Anne’s involvement in the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group contributes to the necessary sterilization of non-surface microbes that may be introduced during spacecraft assembly. She hopes to take this valuable experience and apply it to furthering her education in a PhD program.



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