2019 Research News

Post Doctoral Researcher Attends PI Launchpad Workshop

November 25, 2019 - NASA, the University of Arizona, and the Heising-Simons Foundation organized a workshop entitled "The PI Launchpad: From Science Idea to NASA Mission" in Tucson, Arizona (November 18-20, 2019), “for researchers and engineers who would like to submit a NASA space mission proposal in the next few years but don't know where to start”. Participants learned how to develop a pitch to sell their mission concept idea, find partners, write a proposal, work with engineers… things that you do not learn in the classroom and are key to submitting a successful proposal to launch a spaceflight mission. 

Out of a pool of 200 applicants, only 40 were selected, among them was Dr. Sara Rivero-Calle a UNCW Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Physics and Physical Oceanography and the Center for Marine Science. Dr. Rivero-Calle is a member of the Management Team and the Science Lead of UNCW’s recently launched ocean color CubeSat: SeaHawk. Since she joined the UNCW family in 2018, she has made it her goal to include students in marine science research and all the activities in the satellite oceanography lab. In fact, she is currently teaching an undergraduate class on Ocean Satellite Remote Sensing, and helped establish and advise the UNCW CubeSat Lab Student Organization. But her mission is not limited to UNCW campus, you may also find her doing marine science outreach in the community, or empowering women in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Being born and raised in Spain, she values the importance of diversity at work as much as the challenges that minorities and foreigners may experience. Therefore, she is working with UNCW’s International Faculty and Staff Association towards creating a more inclusive atmosphere at UNCW. All this work did not go unnoticed to the selection committee and granted her a spot in this very unique first workshop of the kind. 

One of the highlights of this workshop was the emphasis on early career researchers, including traditionally marginalized groups, and smaller institutions with little spaceflight experience. Broadening the diversity of scientists and engineers is at the top of the list for NASA’s priorities and this goal transpired throughout the workshop. The search committee targeted applicants and mentors showing a trajectory of inclusiveness, excellent leadership skills, and encouraging minorities. 

One of the highlights of this workshop was a speed networking session with representatives from all the institutions involved in spaceflight missions in the US: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA AMES, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Berkeley’s Space Studies Laboratory SSL, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace, etc. Thanks to visionaries such as UNCW Prof. John Morrison (PI of SeaHawk) and hard-working early career researchers such as Dr. Rivero-Calle, with UNCW’s support and vision, our institution is now making waves in the space industry! Go Seahawks!

For more details: https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/pi-launchpad.