PhD student Natalie Jones has been awarded a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) grant to the tune of $135,000 over the next three years. Her project is titled “Quantifying physical biosignatures: estimating the effect of EPS on fluvial sediment transport processes”.
In short, the proposed work combines experimental fluvial work with analog work at unvegetated meandering rivers in the western United States to investigate the possible role of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)—sticky compounds excreted by common microorganisms—in stabilizing stream banks to allow meandering rivers to form. The project seeks to use this information to better understand the stability of meandering streams on Earth and Mars.
A more detailed abstract of Natalie’s proposal among the other 31 selected planetary science proposals can be found here, on page 6.