Angela Dapremont – How Studying Mars is Relevant to Helping Earth’s Communities

Category: Uncategorized

By Angela Dapremont

This blog is part of Students in Community Science, a series of Thriving Earth Exchange articles featuring students who have had internship, educational or volunteer experiences in community science


I was fortunate to have a unique Thriving Earth Exchange internship experience during the summer and fall months of 2015. I started from scratch by familiarizing myself with the definition of community science, and ended up participating in the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Thriving Earth Exchange events. This journey was refreshing, coming from a primary research background that focused mainly on a planet that was not Earth, and served as a positive exposure to the step-by-step process in which community leaders and scientists work toward a common objective.

The most exciting aspect of the internship was my participation in the candidate scientist interviews. It was intriguing to gain firsthand knowledge and understanding of why, or why not, a certain scientist’s expertise fit with a specific Thriving Earth Exchange city challenge. There were also surprises in the form of obstacles encountered over the duration of community science projects; for example, delays due to city council decision making processes.

My experience with community science has certainly increased my awareness of the commonalities among scientists who conduct research in vastly different disciplines. Despite my current classification as a planetary scientist, I utilize the same methodology tools (for example, remote sensing data) as Thriving Earth Exchange project scientific partners who work toward a climate resilient stormwater infrastructure. I also take advantage of GIS software, used by a Thriving Earth Exchange challenge team to accomplish project objectives related to heat resiliency for climate adaptation, on an almost daily basis in my study of nearly kilometer scale igneous volcanic features on Mars.

Post Thriving Earth Exchange, I participated in a Mars geology focused internship at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory after which I began work on my PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am currently a NSF Graduate Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology. My commitment to science education outreach has continued as a graduate student through participation in a local Georgia elementary school STEM night, and an invited talk at the Cobb County Gem and Mineral Society in Marietta, Ga. I have also served as the membership coordinator for the Georgia Tech chapter of the Lean In organization, as well as a Lean In circle moderator.

My interest in a future career in science policy has been directly influenced by my time as a member of the Thriving Earth Exchange team. I am constantly thinking about how I can apply my own research, and the work of planetary scientists in general, to Thriving Earth Exchange projects. I have enjoyed attending the AGU Fall Meeting Thriving Earth Exchange reception every year to keep up with current projects, and as a reminder not to lose focus on the broader implications of my own work.

My advice to other students considering participation in community science projects is simple: don’t hesitate. If you become aware of a project or scientist’s work in which you are interested, don’t be shy about asking to get involved. Also, do not doubt your abilities, intellect, or what you feel you can contribute to a community science project. Even if you don’t have a PhD, this may make you different from a participating scientist but no less valuable! Finally, I would like to acknowledge the Thriving Earth Exchange staff and the wonderful experience I had working with dedicated individuals whose passion for community science and citizen engagement in science transferred to me in a positive way during my internship and extends to today.

mgoodwin editor