Graduate student at K-State earns internship with NASA

Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 2:30 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A K-State graduate student will have the opportunity to work with NASA in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Kansas State University says a prestigious internship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will help one student achieve her career goals. It said Sarah Lamm, master’s student in geology from Colby, started her remote internship in April with the Origins and Habitability Lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the InVADER - In-situ Vent Analysis Divebot for Exobiology Research - project. Lamm conducts data analysis of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, or LIBS, and Raman laser data collection experiments on hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. It said the data she collects helps find mineral compositions relevant to life on Mars and ocean floors.

“The Raman technique is what I am using right now in my master’s degree research at K-State,” Lamm said. “I also have experience on the LIBS from my previous internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I already knew how those lasers worked, so I was able to jump right in.”

K-State said Lamm’s research at the university focuses on developing a Raman laser calibration method to find the chemical composition of chlorite minerals. It said chlorite is found in various geologic environments and forms with different chemical compositions depending on physical and chemical conditions at the time of formation. For planetary scientists, the university said accurate chemical composition of chlorite minerals helps to understand the environment of other planets more completely.

According to K-State, Lamm’s dream job is to work for NASA as an astronaut or on one of its missions as a project scientist. It said she takes advantage of any opportunity or connection she can make to reach her goals.

“There are a lot of opportunities available at K-State if you are willing to seek them out,” Lamm said. “The best way to elevate yourself is to get involved in the community or get involved in undergraduate research or internships. Those are the communities you will fall back on.”

The university said Lamm earned her bachelor’s degrees in geology, chemistry and geography in 2018 and credits her success to being creative and organized and to the support of her advisors and professors.

“They always had my back and were very supportive of my ideas,” she said. “They would normally do what they could to find a valid solution to my problem. It was nice that I had their support.”

Lamm said she understands it is difficult for some to take risks and that rejection is hard. She said she wants younger students to know that she has also experienced rejection, but she still applies for every scholarship, award or opportunity if she has the qualifications.

“I’m a pretty bold person, and I will just ask for what I want,” Lamm said. “The worst that they can say is no.”

K-State said Lamm earned many honors and awards in her academic career. It said in 2020 she earned the K-State Student Science Communication Award and the Association for Women Geoscientists Service Award. Lamm’s other accolades include the Mars Generation 24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEM and Space, NASA Solar System Ambassador and NASA Group Achievement Award. It said Lamm’s previous internships were with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Geological Society of America. Lamm has also given 19 professional presentations and invited talks and written nine conference abstracts.

According to the university, Lamm will complete her master’s degree in August and then will continue her doctorate studies in planetary sciences at the University of Kansas in the fall.

For more information about Lamm’s research, click HERE.

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