UARC Daily News: How a 21-year-old undergraduate helped discover water on Mars…is your student next?

If you’ve seen the news lately, you’ve likely heard the new research that NASA reported about the likelihood of liquid water on Mars. And you now know that Matt Damon isn’t the answer to the question”what did NASA find on Mars.” So now you’re wondering what that has to do with you?

Well, advisors, here’s one of the key parts of the story: One of the first steps to this discovery was made when Georgia Tech graduate student Lujendra Ohja was an undergraduate in 2010 at University of Arizona. He wrote an algorithm that cleared up photos of MARS. This was the first step in a process of following and tracking the landscape. Now he is the lead researcher on the new reporting from NASA this week.

Yes, you heard it right, he began this work as an undergraduate. Here’s a wonderful example of what we know to be the true when working with our students – the power of engaging academically in college changes lives. Undergraduate academic inquiry within and outside the classroom at a research university like UIC can result in groundbreaking, life-changing discovery.

Is it too much of a leap to say that the power of college is making potential life on Mars a possibility? Hmmm…we’ll have to see what happens.

(For more information, please refer to the following: EAB Daily Briefing (9/28/15), Landau, CNN (8/05/11), and Roston, Bloomberg, (9/28/15).