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  1. NASA Astrobiology Faculty Diversity Program

    The goal of the Astrobiology Faculty Diversity Program (formerly known as the Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) Program) is to help train a new generation of researchers in astrobiology and to increase diversity within the astrobiology community, The AFD Program aims to recruit new researchers into the astrobiology community, inspire and encourage underrepresented students to enter the field of astrobiology, and strengthen the infrastructure of astrobiology research at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

    The eligible candidate must be:

    • A faculty member at a US college or university designated by the US Department of Education as a MSI or a faculty member from an underrepresented minority group
    • Prepared to conduct scientific research related to astrobiology
    • A US Citizen or Permanent US Resident

    The AFD Program provides a stipend, travel allowance, and follow-up support for faculty from Minority Serving Institutions:

    • Up to 10 weeks of support with a stipend of $1,000 per week
    • Up to $5,000 for housing and travel
    • An optional award of $10,000 following the sabbatical, intended to continue the research and involve students, and/or develop astrobiology laboratories or curriculum at the home institution.

    The application includes:

    • The AFD Program application form
    • A 5 page research proposal
    • A description, not to exceed one page, of the applicant’s interests and qualifications relevant to the field of astrobiology and the expected benefit of participation to the applicant, the applicant’s home university and students, the Astrobiology Program researcher, and the AFD Program
    • Plans for future funding to sustain a research or teaching program related to astrobiology after the sabbatical ends
    • A letter of commitment from a hosting NASA Astrobiology-funded researcher
    • A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s home institution

    Please contact Melissa Kirven,, to identify eligible hosts and for more information.

    Application Deadline is April of each year.

    2017 Fellows

    Dr. Tyrell Carr, Saint Augustine’s University
    Host – Donald Burke at the University of Missouri, Columbia
    “The Function of Cofactor-Linked RNAs in Promoting RNA Chemical Modification and Cellular Complex Association”

    2016 Fellows

    Dr. Guillermo Nery, University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo
    Hosts – Laurie Barge and Michael Russell, JPL
    “A Proposal for Developing and Applying a Habitability Index for Europa’s Ice-Covered Ocean“

    Dr. Hemayat Ullah, Howard University Cal State University, San Bernardino
    Host – Dr. Shiladitya DasSarma, University of Maryland School of Medicine
    “Co-evolution of retinal pigments with chlorophyll: Does the spectroscopic complementarity signal one of the oldest metabolic capabilities on Earth?“

    Dr. Rakesh Mogul, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
    Host – Rachel Machelprang, California State University, Northridge
    “Community Metabolomics Along a Permafrost Age Gradient and Formation of a Network for Astrobiology Science in the California State University System”

    2015 Fellows

    Dr. Yassin Jeilani, Spelman College
    Host – Michael P. Callahan, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
    “Formamide Chemistry under Drying Lagoon Conditions“

    Dr. Erik Melchiorre, Cal State University, San Bernardino
    Host – Dr. Timothy Lyons, University of California, Riverside
    “Planetary Habitability and the Origins of Life: Evaluating Mineralogical Evidence for Extremophile Habitability Within Serpentinizing Environments of Early Earth“

    2014 Fellows

    Dr. Peter Abanda, Mid-South Community College
    Host – Lee Bebout, NASA Ames Research Center
    “Roles of Microbes in metal binding and Uptake in Complex Microbial Systems“

    Dr. Marcus Alfred, Howard University
    Host – Paul Butler, Carnegie Institution of Washington
    “Searching for Terrestrial Worlds Around Nearby Stars“

    Dr. Jean-Marie Dimandja, Spelman College
    Host – George Cooper, NASA Ames Research Center
    “Development of a Multi-Dimentional Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Method for the analysis of Extractable Organics in Meteorites“

    Dr. James Wachira, Morgan State University
    Host – George Fox, University of Houston
    “Modeling the Tertiary Structure of the Ribosomal Peptidyl Transferase Center“

    2013 Fellows

    Dr. Alan Anderson, Bowie State University
    Host – Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Scripps Research Institute
    “A Search for the Ancestors of RNA“

    Dr. Tiffany Oliver, Spelman College
    Host – George Fox, University of Houston
    “The Peptidyl Transferase Center (PTC)”

    Dr. Joseph Onyilagha, University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
    Host – Stephen Freeland, University of Maryland Baltimore County
    “Investigation into the Origin of the Genetic Code”

    Dr. Anne Osano, Bowie State University
    Host – Alfonso Davila SETI Institute
    “Salt Deliquescence DrivesPhotosynthesis in the Hyperarid Atacama Desert”

    Dr. Pablo Suárez Joya, Delaware State University
    Host – Wayne Roberge, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    “Adaptive Mesh Refinement Techniques for Simulating Multifluid Magnetohydrodynamic Shock Waves”

    2012 Fellows

    Dr. Prabhakar Misra, Howard University
    Host – Paul Mahaffy of NASA Goddard
    “Fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy of organic molecules of relevance to the spectral library of potential contaminants for the Mars Science Laboratory mission”

    Dr. Hany Sobhi, Coppin State University
    Host – Natasha Johnson of NASA Goddard
    “Investigation of the Fischer –Tropsch-Type (FTT) Catalysis reaction mechanism for the production of insoluble and volatile organic molecules in the protostellar nebula”

    2011 Fellows

    Genet Ide Duke, Northeastern Illinois University (HSI)
    Host – John W. Valley, University of Wisconsin
    “Carbonatite magmas: Source and evolution of Earth’s deep CO2 reservoir”

    Yousef M. Hijji, Morgan State University (HBCU)
    Host – Paul Mahaffy, NASA Goddard
    “Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) in Determination of the Solubility of Nitriles in Liquid Ethane and Methane: Applications in the Determination of Organics in the GC Exhaust”

    Mamta Rawat, California State University, Fresno (HSI)
    Host – Kasthuri J. Venkateswaran, NASA JPL
    “Mechanisms of resistance to deep space and Martian environment in Bacilli”