Astronaut Abby’s Summer Astrobiology Research Internship at Kennedy Space Center

Dr Andrew Schuerger Space Life Sciences Lab at Exploration Park Florida State University

Dr. Andrew Schuerger

I am excited to announce that I have been invited to work in the Schuerger Lab at the Space Life Sciences Lab (SLSL) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida this summer. My research advisor will be Dr. Andrew C. Schuerger from the Dept. of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida.

I will be working on a research project titled: Growth of the Bacterium, Serratia liquefaciens, Under Martian Conditions. This research will focus on the search for life on Mars, through characterizing the limits of growth by terrestrial microorganisms under Martian conditions. Dr. Schruerger and his team have successfully grown 31 bacteria (but no fungi or archaea) under Martian conditions. My work will be to contribute to several ongoing projects pertaining to the growth of S. liquefaciens under simulated Martian conditions. In more general terms, this is pretty cool astrobiology research work that is contributing to our continued search for the possibility of life on Mars.

Astrobiology Research Astronaut Abby

Abby Harrison conducting biology research at Wellesley College.

The really exciting aspect of this work is that it so closely aligns with my own interests in astrobiology and Mars exploration. I honestly can’t imagine an internship or summer job which is more attuned to my interests and goals! As soon as I heard from Dr. Schruerger about the work that he and his team do I knew that I wanted to be involved with the project. Not only is the work fascinating, but I will also be gaining practical experience and advancing my own knowledge and skills while also contributing to important research work that will contribute to our ongoing exploration of Mars.

This is the perfect next step towards my own goals, which include receiving my PhD in astrobiology (after I finish my undergraduate work at Wellesley), and eventually becoming a scientist, astronaut, and hopefully someday the first astronaut to Mars. I often speak of the importance to pursue what you love in your studies and I am doing exactly that! Make sure to sign up for email updates and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and/or to keep up to date on all my adventures this summer and throughout my journey to Mars!


  1. Dean says

    What Martian conditions are you simulating? Low temperature is easy to simulate but what about an extremely low CO2 pressure or the radiation that Mars is constantly bombarded by? Hope you can respond! Have fun with your internship!

  2. dan blatecky says

    Sounds intresting. Most of the Martian surface is blasted by sunlight most of the day, so if there is terrestrial activity, if you possibly be for either so much time, or complete activity, when the sun sets. Venturing a guess, if Mars had oceans, which many scientist think that it did have at one time, it may have succeeded into underground areas fitting many different internal topographies. So what may be indicated after the cursory surface exploration, are subterranean ventures, “if conditions to advanced exploration parameters permit”?
    I would post a note of caution here, mainly because “the how it goes route”, based in evolution may indicate that many forms of blind fish, arachnids and crustacia, may be in any supposed cave system. The food supply for those creatures to exist may be in great demand, so a pair of armored gloves and of extra long salad tongs, might be a wise set of tools, if something larger is found living beneath the Martian terrain. Good luck, sounds like fun. Dan


  1. […] join! This will also be a chance to get to hear more about my Journey to Mars, including my current astrobiology internship at Kennedy Space Center as well a conversation about my nonprofit, The Mars Generation – we have a lot of really cool […]

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