Undergraduate Research Associate

email jdrozd@mit.edu

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-610, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
USA

Bio

2018-present – B.S., Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences with Geosciences Concentration, MIT
Summer 2019 – NASA Astrobiology Institute Research Associate, Astrobiology Analytical Lab, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Research

I’m particularly interested in understanding how we can detect past and present life on our planet and possibly on others. My research interests bring together geobiology, astrobiology, organic geochemistry, and paleontology in an effort to understand pre-Cambrian life on Earth and to look at how we could find evidence of that type of “simple” life on other planets, if it’s out there at all. I’ve become increasingly interested in microbial mat systems, especially in extreme environments, and in their preservation potential because of these interests; the slime intrigues me.
I’ve worked in the Summons Lab since my freshmen fall with Thomas Evans, on a project deciphering the lipid biomarkers in microbial mats from Antarctic meltwater ponds and a project attempting to use scytonemin (a pigment in cyanobacteria) as a biomarker. In the Summons Lab, I’ve also had the chance to help with various parts of other projects and learn how the instruments in the lab work. I spent time the summer between my freshmen and sophomore years as a NASA Astrobiology Institute intern, working on prebiotic chemistry research regarding the polymerization of amino acids in the Astrobiology Analytical Lab at Goddard Space Flight Center. Being in the lab complements my classes and lets me apply what I’m learning in real research, which is vital in giving me confidence as a scientist and inspiring me to pursue a career in research.
Outside of the lab and my never-ending school work, I’m the president of the MIT Figure Skating Club and I coach figure skating. While I spend most of my time working with other MIT students, I get to work with kids occasionally and I try to instill the importance of STEM in their lives through employing physics and math in my coaching. It may not be geobiology, but teaching a third-grader how science can help them with their training can get them on a path to a STEM career in the future.