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Kristy Watson of Pauls Valley, an East Central University senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in both cartography (with a geotechniques concentration) and biology, will give a presentation Sept. 21 [TUESDAY] about her experiences as a summer intern at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Her presentation will be part of a larger event highlighting the importance of NASA on ECU's campus and will kick off the College of Science and Health Student Leadership and Lecture Series at 3:30 p.m. in the Estep Multimedia Center in the Bill S. Cole University Center.

NASA's Space Grant and its role on campus will be discussed, and students will talk about their involvement in the program. Dr. Andrew Mattioda, a 1989 graduate of ECU, will give a presentation on his road to becoming a NASA scientist and his experience at NASA's Ames Research Center which is near San Jose, Calif.

Refreshments will be provided following the presentations.

Of the 17 students selected for the program at NASA Ames, Watson was the only one from outside California.

Beginning on June 7, Watson was the leader of the Salt Pond Restoration Vegetation Team, focusing on the analysis and distribution of the vegetation within the three restoration sites managed by the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

The goal of the study was to gather spectral reflectance of the main vegetation species in the salt marsh and map their distribution using NASA satellite images and hand held equipment as ground referencing tools. The spectral reflectances are very useful in the three-year mapping of the restoration sites. More information about the study is available at

Watson said the education she received from ECU prepared her well for the internship.

"To be the only student of 17 chosen from outside of California was quite an honor, not to mention being chosen as the leader of my team and lead author of our research paper," she said.

"The best part of this internship was being able to gather our own data and work with NASA scientists," she said. "We were not just given the data to gather expected results. Instead, we went out in the field, gathered our own data from our own methodology and tried several different field and lab strategies to achieve our objectives and our ultimate goal. We were able to come up with our own ideas for the direction of the project.

"The internship that I received through the DEVELOP program at NASA Ames is the only student program that actually lets the students gather their own data in the field, and this was very rewarding."

DEVELOP is a NASA Science Mission Directorate Applied Sciences training and development program. Students work on earth science research projects, mentored by science advisors from NASA and partner agencies, and extend research results to local communities. The projects demonstrate to community leaders how NASA science measurements and predictions can be used to address local policy issues.

The DEVELOP program started in 1998 at Langley Research Center in Newport News, Va., and expanded to NASA Ames Research Center located at Moffett Field, Calif., in 2003. To learn more about the program, go to the website at NASA Ames Research Center was founded Dec. 20, 1939, as an aircraft research laboratory by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and in 1958 it became part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

It is one of 10 NASA field installations and is important to the economy of California and NASA as it plays a critical role in virtually all NASA missions in support of America's space and aeronautics programs. It is a leader in information technology research with a focus on supercomputing, networking and intelligent systems.

Ames is also a leader in nanotechnology, fundamental space biology, biotechnology, aerospace and thermal protection systems, and human factors research. Ames research in astrobiology focuses on the effects of gravity on living things, and the nature and distribution of stars, planets and life in the universe.

Ames works collaboratively with the FAA, conducting research in air traffic management to make safer, cheaper and more efficient air travel a reality. Ames also engages in information and education outreach, forms collaborative partnerships and fosters commercial application of NASA technologies.

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