MCC Lecture on Jan. 21 to Connect Submarines, Volcanoes, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak

Dr. Shannon Kobs Nawotniak

The MCC Lecture Series continues virtually on Thursday, Jan. 21, when Dr. Shannon Kobs Nawotniak talks about her NASA research projects that link “Submarines, Volcanoes, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”

The free event begins at 6 p.m. To join the lecture on Zoom, please click the following link: Meeting ID: 974 1941 8658  To connect to audio by phone, dial 646-558-8656.

“The search for extraterrestrial life in the solar system is guided by our understanding of habitability, with life as we know it dependent on water, energy, and nutrients,” explained Kobs Nawotniak, an associate professor at Idaho State University working in its Volcanology Research Lab.

“Volcanoes, particularly ones associated with current or past liquid water, therefore become important targets for exploration due to the thermal and chemical gradients associated with them. The NASA SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) project uses an interdisciplinary approach and remotely operated submarines to study underwater volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean as analogs for Enceladus, a moon of Saturn with liquid water and evidence of a rocky, and possibly volcanic, seafloor.”

A graduate of Michigan Tech and SUNY Buffalo, Kobs Nawotniak serves as Geology Co-Lead on the NASA FINESSE project and Deputy Principal Investigator on the NASA BASALT project, both of which use terrestrial lavas to investigate planetary volcanoes.

“I use field work, experimental analogue models, and computational analyses to evaluate volcanic eruptions and their potential hazards,” she added. Her research has been conducted at the Inyo volcanoes in California, the Los Tuxtlas Volcanic Field in Veracruz, Mexico, Mauna Ulu in Hawaii, and the eastern Snake River Plain volcanic zone in Idaho.

“Dr. Kobs Nawotniak grew up in the Holland area and our paths crossed while at Michigan Tech,” said MCC Instructor Amber Kumpf, who teaches geology at the College.  “She has gone on to great achievement as a well-respected volcanologist, so I am very excited to hear about her latest adventures. Our students are in for a treat. Dr. Kobs Nawotniak is a wonderful example for students to see just how far they can go and what kinds of amazing things they can accomplish with hard work and dedication.”

“From NASA and NPR’s Science Friday to now MCC’s Lecture Series, it is an honor to have Michigan native Dr. Kobs Nawotniak join us to discuss her galactically respected research,” said MCC faculty member Andy Wible, who coordinates the Lecture Series.

For more information, contact Wible at (231) 777-0626 or