2019 Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Jenna Robinson

Jenna Robinson is in her senior year at ASU double majoring in Earth and Space Exploration with a concentration in astrobiology and biogeosciences and also in French.

Originally from the East Coast, Robinson chose ASU not only for a change of scenery, but also because she was inspired by ASU faculty member Jim Bell and his book Mars 3-D: A Rover's Eye View of the Red Planet. “Space had always fascinated me,” says Robinson, “but the combination of reading that book and watching science fiction shows like Star Trek convinced me to develop that curiosity into understanding. After visiting ASU and walking into ISTB4 [headquarters for the School of Earth and Space Exploration] for the first time, I knew that I had to be a Sun Devil.”

Besides her studies, Robinson has been active in extracurricular activities that have enhanced her experience at ASU, both from a science and interpersonal perspective. She particularly enjoyed serving as outreach coordinator and then president of ASU's chapter of The Planetary Society, which seeks to share the excitement and importance of space exploration with the public. Through this chapter, she met other students who were passionate about space exploration and had many opportunities to engage the public at School events such as Earth and Space Open House and Earth and Space Exploration Day. 

Robinson also enjoyed working at the ASU Nexus for Exoplanet Systems Science (NExSS) with School faculty member, Steve Desch. This NASA-funded project is a collaboration of scientists from diverse backgrounds who are helping to devise a strategy for looking for life on exoplanets around other stars. This Robinson says working for NExSS solidified her academic interest in astrobiology and taught her the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation.

After she graduates, Robinson hopes to attend the University of Washington as a doctoral candidate in Earth and space sciences and astrobiology and she looks forward to the opportunity to collaborate with a new group of scientists. “When I first came to ASU, I was passionate about astrobiology, but I lacked confidence in my math and science skills,” says Robinson. “But numerous mentors at ASU bolstered my self-confidence and have shown me that I have the skills that I need to succeed.”