Meet the Team: Mrina Nikrad

This month we feature Mrina Nikrad, a research scientist with a specialty in marine sciences and microbial ecology who recently joined our team.

BMSIS: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Mrina: I’m a postdoctoral researcher at Rutgers University, studying microbial biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen in polar ecosystems. My training and background span from ecology and evolution to biomedical science, but my passion is studying microbes that live in extreme climates, especially because of relevance to astrobiology and human space travel. Previously, my dissertation research has taken me to Antarctica’s west Antarctic Peninsula region several times in order to examine bacterial processing of organic carbon in cold oceans. In general my goal is to understand how bacterial and archaeal metabolisms differ in below-freezing environments and from high to low nutrient availability.

BMSIS: What motivated you to join the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science?

Mrina: Ever since high school when I discovered the field of astrobiology, I have wanted to contribute to studying potential life on exoplanets, as well as encourage the human exploration of other worlds. I came to know about BMSIS after joining the grassroots astrobiology website, SAGANet The scientists and members of BMSIS are doing a lot of amazing outreach about their work and promoting knowledge of a variety of topics. I love exposing the public to new and exciting science and felt I had to join the BMSIS team. In the coming years I hope to fully use BMSIS resources to reach out to the public about my work and promote public knowledge of microbial ecology.