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  • Brooke Owens Fellow, Class of 2018

  • University of Kentucky, Biology and Neuroscience, '19

  • Host Institution: Vulcan

  • Mentor: Kris Lehnhardt

Esther Putman is a senior in the BS/MD Accelerated pre-med program at the University of Kentucky, studying Biology and Neuroscience. After a summer astronomy program in high school, she knew right away that she wanted to pursue a career studying our species' exploration beyond Earth.

She began to explore this passion as an intern with Space Tango, a commercial company facilitating research on the International Space Station. As a Biomedical Research and Design Intern, Esther completes experiment planning, validation testing, toxicology reporting, and helps in the creation of cube labs for experimentation in low Earth orbit. Space Tango focuses on discovery of solutions in space for applications on Earth.

She also completed a summer in NASA Ames’s 2017 Space Life Sciences Training Program, conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Blaber. She explored bone marrow stem cell differentiation after exposure to spaceflight stressors. During this time, she also collaborated on a team coordinating nationwide stratospheric weather balloon launches carrying bacterial samples during the August 2017 Solar Eclipse. These samples were used to study potentials for microbial survivability in a Martian analog environment.

As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Esther spent the summer of 2018 working at Vulcan, utilizing satellite Earth observations to develop monitoring, modeling, and prediction technologies aimed towards addressing large-scale global issues such as illegal fishing activity, poaching of elephants, and coral reef conservation. She was named a 2018 Women in Aerospace Foundation Scholar, a 2018 Astronaut Scholar, and an AIAA Diversity Scholar.  

Esther has a strong passion for STEM education and showing students how they can become involved in space exploration. She is incredibly thankful to the Brooke Owens Fellowship for helping her approach the industry with confidence and providing an unparalleled network of support.