Meet: Erica Wagner
Experiment Support Scientist / Microbiology Coordinator
What I do:
I currently have two positions, or responsibilities at work. The first
is that of an experiment support scientist, or ESS, for short. I work
with a group of research scientists who will be sending their experiments
in space on April 16th. Each scientist has a team of people to help him
complete his experiment along with an ESS. I am the ESS for Dr. Tsuyoshi
Shimizu, from Fukushima Medical College in Japan. Along with Dr. Shimizu
and his team members, I make sure that all of his documentation, such
as procedural documents, are accurate and complete for flight. I am also
resonsible for making sure that he has all of the supplies needed for
My second job is that of the Microbiologist for my division at Lockheed
Martin. I am responsible for making sure that the appropriate testing
for health status is done for animals used here at ARC, at JSC, and at
KSC for flight. I coordinate animal orders directly with our animal vendor,
and coordinate the microbiological sampling of these animals. I then work
with our microbiology laboratory to make sure that the correct types of
tests are done. When it comes time for flight I need to make sure that
the Payload Scientist has all of the test results so that he can give
the OK for the animals to be loaded into the space shuttle.
My Career Journey
Just before I graduated from UC Davis I met a women who works at NASA.
She helped me meet some people who were looking for a summer intern. I
worked as a volunteer the summer I graduated from college and then interviewed
for the position which I have currently. The work that I had done during
the summer along with my degree in biology was very helpful in getting
this job. A biology backround is very important if you are going to work
in the science field.
Preparation for Career
As I child I was always interested in science, especially medicine.
As I grew older I did volunteer work in a hospital emergency room, and
I have worked for two doctors over the years. My interest in medicine
led me to getting a degree in biology which opened up the possibility
of working for NASA in their science department.
I had a special mentor as I was growing up who always encouraged me
to do my best. She always told me that I could accomplish anything, and
Likes/Dislikes about career
My job is very exciting because I am working on a project which will
eventually be put on the shuttle which will go into space. I am able to
work with scientists and astronauts on this project. I especially enjoy
working with researchers all over the world and learning their cultures.
I have been able to get to know my Japanese team very well, and we enjoy
learning the differences that we have in social aspects and language.
We are a government institution so we are required to document most
things that we do. Most of the time I get to work with my team, but there
are periods when I spend eight hours a day in front of my computer creating
documents. I have a lot of fun creating documents and working on the computer,
but sometimes eight hours is just too long!
This job takes a lot of things. One is a good backround in science,
especially in biology, but you also have to like to work with people.
I work with a team of almost twenty people. We all depend on each other
for information so communication is very important. Computer skills are
also very helpful because of the extensive documentation required.
I live in an apartment in Mountain View so I am close to my work, but
I usually spend my weekends in San Jose with my family. I have a wonderful
younger sister named Kari who is a lot fun and one of my best friends.
Kari takes care of my black and white cat named Maddie. Maddie loves to
eat and loves to 'talk' to people. I also have a fish names "Shwish".
My mom, Candy, works at an elementary school with children, and my dad,
Robert, has his own business as a food broker. My boyfriend Mark and I
like to work out at the gym, and when the weather is nice we love to Rollerblade.
I also enjoy sewing and reading. I am planning on going back to school
and getting my masters in public health in the next year or so.