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Kate Nelson: From NASA to Volcanoes in Latin America


July 02, 2021

Kate Nelson, a McNair alumni and Geophysics PhD candidate at Michigan Technological University, has been interning at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory since the spring of 2020. NASA JPL, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology, is a federally funded research development lab located in Pasadena California. At NASA JPL, Kate works in data collection and analysis for use in satellite data validation, and is also working on publishing her findings.


NASA JPL Campus in Pasadena, California. 

Kate is also working hard at MTU where she is studying volcanic carbon reuptake by tropical forests on actively degassing volcanoes as a way to understand how tropical ecosystems will respond to climate change. Her studies have taken her to other counties and she has conducted fieldwork in Costa Rica and Ecuador with other scientists from the U.S. and Latin America. Kate and her team’s research in Latin America has not gone unnoticed and their work has been featured in The Washington Post. Kate credits the McNair program with helping her learn the skills she needed to succeed in graduate school and gain a larger world view which has allowed her to work internationally.

The McNair Scholars Program is proud of Kate’s achievements and there is no doubt that she will continue to do great things as her academic career takes off!  

Kate Nelson in Latin America

Nel Rodriguez Sepulveda (left) and Kate Nelson (right) walk near a volcano in Costa Rica (Photo taken by Dado Galdieri/Hilaea Media and featured in The Washington Post).