October 20, 2021 Program Meeting

Speaker: Cecilia Sanders, California Institute of Technology

Topic: You’ll Know It When You See It:  Defining, Describing and Detecting Life in the Universe

SDAA’s October speaker is Caltech graduate student Cecilia Sanders, a Ph.D. candidate in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.  She will give a presentation titled “You’ll Know It When You See It:  Defining, Describing and Detecting Life in the Universe.” Her descriptions of what evidence could be found on other planets is very relevant to current planetary missions.

Cecilia is studying the origins and evolution of life and writes that she is “interested in how and why evidence of life and its building blocks is preserved — and why it often isn’t.”   “I do this by describing and quantifying the sedimentology and stratigraphy of Pre-Cambrian rocks in Central Brazil, Southern Namibia, and the SW United States.” She also produces artwork and graphics for her own research.   “I create,” she continues, “graphite-and-ink drawings and digital renderings … to build a picture of an ancient and faraway world:  Precambrian Earth or Mars [with] shallow seas and deep canyons.”

Cecilia Sanders received her undergraduate degree in Earth and planetary science and astrophysics from Harvard University in 2016.  In 2018, she earned an MS in planetary science from Caltech.  Currently, Cecilia holds a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.  She is the recipient of a 2020 award from Caltech for her contributions to educational outreach. In addition to her research and coursework, Cecilia designs and teaches the elementary-level science curricula for the Pasadena Unified School District. 

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