Jennifer Eigenbrode

Day one for me at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is best remembered as OBA –Overwhelmed By Acronyms. I felt like a stranger in another world. All through graduate school I envisioned my future as an academic professor. I love to teach. I get great satisfaction out of sharing my enthusiasm for science and encouraging paths to discovery, especially when it is returned to me by others. When it came time to seek out that job, I felt the university tenure system would undermine my personal and professional wellness, so I broadened my future vision –that is when my career path took an abrupt change of course. The Science Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument team was looking for an organic biogeochemist to work on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and future astrobiology missions. It was a natural fit and a fortuitous opportunity. In retrospect, I think I was destined for NASA without ever knowing it.

I come from a family of engineers and technicians. My father contributed to some of the electrical connections used on the Space Shuttle. Like him, I was an inquisitive kid and enjoyed science at school, but I also loved art. It was on the return drive from visiting James Madison University, where I would eventually attend for my undergraduate degree, that my career path set its course. The rolling blue-green mountains were awe-inspiring. I decided right then and there that I wanted to know how they got there. What forces of nature brought them to their gentle majesty? Curiosity got the best of me. Keep reading →