Name: Shannon Rupert
Grad year: 1996
What do you do?
I am the Program Manager/Director of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a remote Mars analog station near Hanksville, Utah, where visiting researchers conduct multidisciplinary studies that include biology, geology, space science, human factors and engineering projects all aimed at helping humans become a space-faring species.
Why do you do it?
I’ve been with the program since it’s beginning. I was originally drawn to the project because of its mix of both science and vision. That’s why I am still here.
What have you done?
I’ve traveled all over the world doing research in remote places, representing NASA and other institutions. I have friends and colleagues around the world and have mentored younger scientists. I was a college teacher until I moved to live at MDRS three years ago, and taught in San Diego, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.
What did you learn at UC San Diego?
I was a non-traditional (aka older) community college transfer student and was warned that there would be little opportunity for me at UCSD to do student research. I found this wasn’t the case, and I was able to both student teach and also do research in Dr. Joshua Kohn’s lab.
What have you learned since?
I have learned that there are always opportunities, but it is up to us to find them. I became the first Master’s student in Biology at Cal State San Marcos. I went on to teach the same first biology class I took at the community college where I originally took it (Miramar). I went back to finish a Ph.D. that took one heart attack and ten years to finish. Who knows what opportunity is just around the corner?