Student Features

Vern Jones
portrait - NSA JonesVern Jones. Image Credit: NASA.
  1. Which NASA program did you participate in prior to the Ambassadors Program and what was your major project for that program?

    Program: NASA Science and Technology Institute Summer Scholars (NSTI) Program at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
    Major Project: Synthesis and Characterization of Cobalt/Aluminum Oxide Catalyst for Fischer Tropsch Reactions.

  2. What are you majoring in and what college are you attending?

    College: Cleveland State University (joint program with the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic).
    Major: Clinical-Bioanalytical Chemistry.
    Degree Program: Ph.D track.

  3. What are your career goals? Are they with NASA?

    I have ambitions of earning the Graduate Student Research Program grant from NASA to fund a project that examines how microgravity contributes to the cellular activity and the influence the environment has on the intergrin activation. Once I complete this degree program, I have ambitions of conducting my post-doc work at a lab dedicated to clinical chemistry research and upon completion become certified as a Clinical Chemist, to then open a clinical lab to analyze samples from patients both on Earth and in space.

    I also have a goal of contributing to the current knowledge base in the area of molecular biology, concerned with the elucidation of biosignaling events involving intergrins, which are transmembrane proteins which connect the cytoskeleton of several cell types with extracellular matrix proteins.

  4. Why did you choose to be a NASA Ambassador?

    I chose to become a NASA Ambassador to obtain access to key information about NASA events and research, as well as research programs. I also want to disseminate the information to my peers and undergraduate university students, to encourage more interest development in the STEM disciplines and help other students enjoy the same benefits that I have experienced having participated as an intern at the Glenn Research Center.

  5. What are your future goals in the Ambassador Program and what are you looking forward to in the program?

    My future goals include attending a shuttle launch and participating in more round table discussions to promote NASA and enhance their efforts in the field of biomedical research. I am looking forward to this happening as well as the development of the Ambassador Program as it expands with more students and more diversity.

  6. How has interning and being an ambassador at NASA helped you?

    Interning has helped me interact at an interpersonal level with other scientists, and has enabled me to make a smooth transition into the high-level research environment at the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Being an intern and an ambassador has allowed me to verify my zeal for science as it gives me an opportunity to share my experience with other developing scientists.

  7. What events are you looking forward to in the Ambassador Program or what events have you attended that sparked your interest?

    I have been told that we may have access to conferences or even a shuttle launch. Those would be the most important events that I would be looking forward to. But I also would like to participate in any high school visits or programs that are focused on community outreach or science awareness.

  8. What advice would you give to aspiring students who want to participate in the many opportunities NASA offers?

    Soak it in. You only have one life to live and many decisions will direct the course of your life. Focus on your passion and work hard to realize your potential. Embrace difficulty and work hard. Challenge yourself to meet the qualifications of the many opportunities NASA offers.

  9. What have you experienced at NASA that stood out to you the most?

    The culmination of my internship was prolonged due to a four-week extension. During this time, I was selected to meet NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden during a student roundtable discussion held at Glenn on August 12, 2009. The discussion of NASA's vision during this exclusive opportunity validated the relevance of my interest in researching bioanalytical techniques for diagnosing diseases.

  10. How are you going to motivate students to pursue a career related to STEM? What motivated you?

    I traveled home during my NSTI internship and had the opportunity to speak about my NASA experience at church on Youth Sunday. First, I asked the youth about their interests. Then, I convinced the students who had been convinced the sky was the limit that they were guilty of not working for NASA! Next, I distributed NASA fact sheets which highlighted the projects and facilities I was exposed to during the summer. I witnessed the minds of the K-12 students ignite with inspiration when I mentioned that I shook the hand of an astronaut, Charlie Bolden. I concluded by challenging them to develop an interest in science and dream big.

    Recently, I disseminated pamphlets and program websites to encourage my peers and K-12 students to pursue the educational opportunities provided by NASA.

-Reported by Aaron M. Greene, LERCIP intern

-Edited by Tori Woods, SGT Inc.
NASA’s Glenn Research Center