Do-It-Yourself Education
Candy Barbaran with a poster she presented about her research

Candy Barbaran's participation in NYCRI inspired her strong interest in research. Image Credit: Candy Barbaran

NASA educational opportunities provide students with the chance to learn a variety of exciting things. But for Candy Barbaran, the most important things she learned in NASA's New York City Research Initiative project were ways to learn on her own. Barbaran said her experience with the NYCRI project has inspired an ongoing interest in research.
In which NASA student opportunity project did you participate, and how did you get involved in it?

I participated in the NASA NYCRI program for the years of 2006 and 2007. I was recommended by my Earth science high school teacher, Mr. Marc Ceasaire.

Explain the research you conducted through your NASA involvement, and why this topic is important.

I was involved in remote-sensing-related research. More specifically, I was involved with improving algorithms for detecting chlorophyll fluorescence in algae particles. Detection of this parameter is vital because of its applications. A few examples are monitoring climate change; water pollution; algae bloom, which can be hazardous for the oceans' ecosystem; and the monitoring of carbon dioxide levels in the water.

What has been the most exciting part of your research?

The most exciting part is the feeling of accomplishment after completing a task, because in the process you always learn something new or master a new skill on your own. Conducting research, even at a high school level, really allows you to grow because you become more independent and a more adept self-learner. Working with Ph.D. students and being mentored by prestigious professors and scientists is also very exciting, along with boat trips and seminars. It all comes together for a very rewarding experience.

What is your educational background, and what are your future educational plans?

I graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in 2007 and am currently attending City College under a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) fellowship and as a Kayle Scholar. I am majoring in electrical engineering and hopefully, if all goes well, plan to pursue a Ph.D.

What inspired you to choose the education/career field you did?

My career choice I can thankfully accredit to the NASA NYCRI program. I immediately got hooked to the research and feel like I found something I really enjoy doing, something both challenging and intriguing.

What do you think will be the most important things you’ll take away from your involvement with NASA?

The most important thing is a stronger sense of work ethic, ambition and, most importantly, a greater appreciation for knowledge and research.

How do you think your NASA involvement will affect your future?

Thanks to NASA's program I have made several connections/bonds to people who can help me when it comes to making career choices and have opened the doors to college-level research opportunities which I am currently involved with.

What are your future career plans?

I am not sure where exactly I will be working in the future, but all I know is that research is something that has permanently captivated my interest.

What advice would you have for other students who are interested in becoming involved with, or working for, NASA?

Besides the obvious -- which is a good GPA -- is to explore the unknown and feed your curiosity. Discovering and learning things for yourself will prepare you for the opportunities NASA has to offer.
NASA's New York City Research Initiative project offers teams of high school students, teachers and undergraduate students the opportunity to work alongside principal investigators of NASA-funded research projects at 12 colleges in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. NYCRI supports the agency's goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

Related Resources
New York City Research Initiative   →
The Science of Collaboration
The Real Thing
NASA Education Web site   →
Goddard Space Flight Center Education   →

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services