Denise Buckner to Defend Thesis on July 23rd

Space Studies M.S. candidate, Denise Buckner, will defend her thesis as follows.  All Space Studies students, faculty and staff are encouraged to show your support by attending.

When:  Thursday, July 23rd at 1:00 pm (Central DST)

Where:  online only – see details below

Title:  “Electron Beam Irradiation as a Potential Lipid Decontamination Technique for Life Detection Instruments”

About the topic: Denise’s thesis research comprises a study testing radiation sterilization as a possible method for cleaning lipid/fat molecules off of instruments that will search for molecular signs of life on Mars and Icy Moons. Decontamination is an essential part of space exploration, as clean instruments are necessary to prevent false positives, but no method has yet been identified that can effectively remove background contamination to the low levels required by analytical instrument limits of detection.

Advisor:  Dr. Mike Gaffey

About the Presenter: Denise is a Space Studies Masters student minoring in Biology and interested in the search for life in the universe. She has a B.S. in aviation operations management from Saint Louis University and plans to begin a PhD in geology and Planetary Sciences at the University of Florida this fall, where she will continue the research she began at UND studying lipid biomarkers as possible signs of life on other planets. She currently resides in the San Francisco bay area where she works at NASA Ames Research Center and Blue Marble Space Institute of Science as an astrobiologist designing life detection instruments. In her free time, she enjoys music, the beach, and inventing new vegan recipes.

Join us online via one of two formats:

Via Zoom video conferencing.  Questions for the speaker may be posted at this site during the presentation.

meeting number: 327-372-990

A simple live webcast will be available at

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