Alumni and students are using their UNT education to make their mark in their respective fields at NASA.
TEXT: JESSICA DELEON
As a young boy growing up in Nigeria, John Femi-Oyetoro (above) (’17 M.S., ’21 Ph.D.) always needed to know things. He was known to tear radios apart to see what was inside them.
“I was curious and I asked questions. ‘Why does this work?’ ‘Why do we look to the sky?’”
Now as a postdoctoral fellow for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, he conducts research and develops infrared detectors for space applications in ground or space telescopes.
He’s not the only UNT community member whose path has led them to the nation’s premier space agency. Members of the Mean Green Family are contributing their research expertise in everything from history to learning technologies.
Janetta Robins Boone, a doctoral student in learning technologies, is an instructional technologist who develops computer and video training modules for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Boone uses her coding and graphic design skills to help develop videos, often shot in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility that is the same scale as the ISS.
Read about how UNT researchers in CIIMS and other areas are making innovative discoveries through the support of NASA.
“I love contributing any way I can to the mission of NASA and space flight in general,” she says.
Jennifer Ross-Nazzal (’21 M.S.) works as a historian at the Johnson Space Center — even publishing the book Making Space for Women: Stories from Trailblazing Women of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
She relishes talking to people who make NASA work. For an oral history project, she interviewed more than 300 people about their roles at NASA.
“I wonder what more I could learn about women at NASA,” she says. “You can work at NASA even if you’re a non-technical person. Librarians, attorneys and many more are part of that mission to make it successful.”
Femi-Oyetoro says researchers could spend their whole career on a project. But he is hooked, knowing that he’s making a difference for humankind through his work.
“I’m passionate about this research, which helps form the foundation of technologies crucial for enabling science observations — giving us a better understanding of Earth-like planets, ocean worlds and science measurements that point to potential hubs of life. Space is vast,” he says, “and there is so much to explore.”