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MORGAN IRONS

  • Brooke Owens Fellow, Class of 2017

  • Duke University, Environmental Science and Biology ‘17

  • Host Institution: Avascent

  • Mentor: Jenn Gustetic

Morgan is a Soil and Crop Sciences Ph.D. student in the Lehmann Lab at Cornell University. Her research is in understanding how biogeochemical cycles and feedbacks are initially established in regolith and degraded soils from Earth and other planetary bodies – with a focus on soil organic matter introduction and organo-mineral interactions in soil aggregates.

Morgan first decided to pursue her passions for soil and crop sciences and space exploration while an undergraduate at Duke University. With the help of three Duke graduate professors and her father, she developed an experiment to study plant, microorganism, and soil development in Martian Regolith Simulant, leading to the completion of a double honors thesis and the awarding of a patent (Patent Number: 9970208). In her third year at Duke, Morgan co-founded the space and agricultural business startup, Deep Space Ecology; a company working to solve food security problems and the challenges of human sustainability in the deep spaces of Earth and our solar system. Morgan graduated from Duke University in the spring of 2017 with Bachelor of Science degrees in environmental science and biology, a minor in chemistry, and a completion for the Duke pre-medicine track.

Throughout her educational career, Morgan has worked as the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator at Duke Medical Center for Perioperative Services; an Advanced Technology Operator and Lab Assistant at the Duke Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility; the Tree Campus Ambassador for the Duke University Tree Campus Council; a research assistant in various environmental and biological labs at Duke University; a student researcher at NASA Langley Research Center; and the Vice Chair for The Mars Generation Student Space Ambassador Leadership Program Advisory Board.

As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Morgan worked at Avascent, performing market, technology, and provider landscape analyses in the small satellite industry, and presenting oral and written executive briefs to clients and Avascent’s CEO.

When she is not in the lab, Morgan can be found working on projects for her company (Deep Space Ecology), volunteering in her community, talking with students about space agriculture and STEAM education, and reading books and papers on soil science and civic ecology.