Penelope Boston biography

Penelope Boston

Female, Person


Who is Penelope Boston?

Penelope J. Boston is a speleologist. She is associate director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and founder and director of the Cave and Karst Studies Program at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. Among her research interests are geomicrobiology of caves and mines, extraterrestrial speleogenesis, and space exploration and astrobiology generally.

In the mid-1980s, Boston was one of the founders of the Mars Underground and helped organize a series of conferences called The Case for Mars. She has a B.S. in microbiology, geology, and psychology, and a M.S. in microbiology and atmospheric chemistry. She completed her Ph.D. from University of Colorado Boulder in 1985. During 2002-2004, she was Principal Investigator on the Caves of Mars Project, which, among other things, studied the effects on mice of an atmosphere rich in argon, and "flat crops" that might be grown in Martian caves. She developed the concept of small jumping robots for Mars exploration. She gave a TEDtalk about the likelihood of life on Mars in 2006.

Her interest in extremophiles which may be found in caves and karst on Earth, and should be looked for in equivalents of other objects in space from asteroids to planets, is a frequent subject of her published papers and at least one of her books.


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  • University of Colorado Boulder

on July 23, 2013

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