Read for more information on Nicole’s NASA FINESST Award
Nicole was a former ISGC Undergraduate Student at the University of Northern Iowa, so we believed it was only fitting to do a highlight on her and see where she is at now with her career. She received an undergraduate research fellowship from ISGC for the 2018-2019 school year and worked under Dr. Joshua Sebree doing in situ UV-Vis measurements of gas mixtures relevant to the atmosphere of Titan. During this research opportunity, she explored how different isotopes, gas ratios, and temperatures affected the photokinetics of aerosols. During this research program, she found clarification that this was what she wanted to do in the work area of astrochemistry while moving to graduate school.
Nicole is currently a researcher in Dr. Heather Allen’s lab at Ohio State University and is working on developing methods for understanding the chemical components of the sea surface microlayer. She recently was awarded a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology research grant to explore and better understand data from the Cassinni mission through the use of machine learning. She is mostly focusing on the data collected during the flybys of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s many moons.
When asked why Nicole loves STEM, she replied with “I love STEM because there is no end to the questions that can be asked. Especially when looking at a brand-new system that you haven’t considered before. During my graduate work, I was a teaching assistant with Dr. Nicole Karn for multiple lab-based courses in which students had to come up with their own research questions and hypotheses. It is really rewarding to get to help students ask new questions and oftentimes I would leave class with new questions that I had myself. STEM to me is like a never-ending puzzle and each question leads to even more to explore.”
Nicole’s involvement with ISGC was beneficial for her because of her decision to pursue a research-based degree after finishing her undergraduate work. It gave her confidence in her ability to move on from college knowing she had the ability to thrive in a research lab in the graduate school area. She got to participate in two different group projects, one being the Biogeochemical Evolution of the Atmosphere (BETA) Project, and the other being the astrochemistry course at UNI that was funded in part by ISGC. Through these opportunities, she connected with NASA in many different ways and also win the NASA FINESST award. “The ISGC has been incredibly important in preparing me for graduate school, as well as my career beyond graduate school,” Nicole states.
Nicole’s biggest advice for current students in ISGC is to work on developing a growth mindset and learn to see challenges and struggles as an opportunity to learn and try new approaches- which can be even more prevalent in the STEM world.
Be on the lookout for Nicole North! We anticipate even bigger steps in her future!