Timothy Brian Shirey

Planetary Protection Engineer

Office: 818-354-3565


Brian Shirey is a Planetary Protection Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is currently serving as the Mars 2020 Biological Sciences Deputy Lead, and is also supporting mission implementation activities for InSight, Europa, and Mars Helicopter. Prior to joining the JPL Biotechnology and Planetary Protection group, Brian received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Alabama, and was subsequently awarded a prestigious ORISE postdoctoral fellowship from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. Brian has an established and diverse research background within the fields of applied and environmental microbiology, with expertise in both laboratory and field investigations, biofinformatics, genomics, microbial sterilization, and planetary protection. An enthusiastic collaborator, Brian has partnered with collegues representing both national and international agencies and institutions including NASA, CDC, FDA, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and a number of colleges and universities.

Research Interests

  • Microbial sterilization and inactivation

  • Planetary protection flight implementation

  • Biocontainment and biosafety

  • Investigating microbial communities in Mars analog and other extreme environments

  • Bacterial genomics and bioinformatics

Professional Experience

2016-present, Planetary Protection Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

2013-2016, Postdoctoral Fellow in Microbiology and Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2014-2016, CDC Laboratory Quality Management Program Next Generation Sequencing Quality Workgroup

2010-2013, NASA Space Grant Fellow, The University of Alabama

2008-2013, Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Alabama


2013, Ph.D., Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Alabama

2007, B.S., Marine Biology, Department of Biology and Marine Biology, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Selected Awards

JPL Voyager Award, 2017

Mars 2020 Team Award for Mars 2020 Sample Cleanliness Technical Leadership, 2017

JPL Team Award for Mars 2020 Planetary Protection Fairing Acoustic Panel, 2017

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Honor Award Certificate, 2015

Alabama Space Grant Consortium/NASA Space Grant Fellowship, 2010-2012

Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology Field Scholar, 2012

NASA Mars Exploration Program Grant, 2012

Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student in Biology, 2008

The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, 2005-2006

Presidential Environmental Achievement Award, 2004

Selected Publications

Shirey, T.B. et al. “An overview of surface heat microbial reduction as a viable microbial reduction modality for spacecraft surfaces.” 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems, 2017.

Raphael, Brian H., et al. “Distinguishing highly-related outbreak-associated Clostridium botulinum type A (B) strains.” BMC microbiology 14.1 (2014): 1.

Shirey, T. Brian, et al. “Characterizing the fecal microbiota of infants with botulism.” Microbiome 3.1 (2015): 1.

Shirey, T. B., R. W. Thacker, and J. B. Olson. “Composition and stability of bacterial communities associated with granular activated carbon and anthracite filters in a pilot scale municipal drinking water treatment facility.” Journal of water and health 10.2 (2012): 244-255.

Weigand, Michael R., et al. "Implications of genome-based discrimination between Clostridium botulinum group I and Clostridium sporogenes strains for bacterial taxonomy." Applied and environmental microbiology 81.16 (2015): 5420-5429.

CL#: 17-1953, 18-1585

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