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Linda SauterAstrobiology IGERT
University of WashingtonSeattle, WA
I've always been interested in the "big questions", and there's no question bigger, in my opinion, than "Are We Alone?" The 21st century is the century that we will finally answer this question that has nagged at humankind for millennia. Astrobiology is a science that encompasses many disciplines, yet has a unique and uniting perspective on them all.
I have a Master's degree in planetary astronomy, and then spent 6 years working in molecular biology and genomics, while those fields underwent a revolution. Every day biotechnology is getting smaller, more sensitive, and more sophisticated in how it detects and measures the signals of life. I'm interested in building collaborations with bioengineers and biotech companies to turn these exciting new technologies to the question of life detection. We should first test these techniques in extreme locations on Earth, then hopefully take them to places like Mars.
In 2004 Prof. Woody Sullivan and I taught Astrobiology 190, a 5 credit undergraduate general science course. It was great fun. Students are always enthusiastic about Astrobiology and come to a course like this with lots of ideas and expectations. At the end of the course, the students had a much more informed opinion about the question of "Are We Alone?" and how scientists are contributing to its answer.
This summer, I had an internship with the NASA Astrobiotechnology Focus Group. We're working to develop technologies for miniaturized biosensor technology (applied first on Earth, then hopefully on Mars) in a project called Modular Assays for Solar System Exploration.
This year I joined the lab of Prof. Mary Lidstrom. I'm involved with the Microscale Life Sciences Center. Its mission is to develop microsystems to measure multiple parameters in individual living cells in real time to correlate cellular events with genomic information.
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