Meet: Scott Sandford
NASA Ames Research Center, Mt.View, CA
What I do (asked
As a research astrophysicist, my duties are varied but include:
- Joint responsibility for running the large Astrochemistry
Laboratory in the Astrophysics Branch of the Space Sciences Division.
- Carrying out scientific investigations (telescopic
and laboratory) designed to better understand the composition of materials
in space and the origins of life.
- Scientific and consultational support for NASA
- Occasional trips to Antarctica to collect meteorites.
- Etc. [Obviously, I'm given a fair degree of freedom
to pick my own problems to work on.]
I received my Ph.D. in Physics in 1985 from Washington University, St.
Louis. Four years earlier, in 1981, I received an M.A. in Physics from
the same university.
I spent several years as a research assistant in New Mexico and then as
a fellow and research associate in St. Louis. I took a nine-month appointment
as a National Research Council associate before coming to NASA Ames as
Mostly I am just driven by a deep sense of curiosity. Most of the time
I feel that what I am doing is fun, not work. The path I have followed
so far was not planned out in any detailed way. Mostly I simply availed
myself of opportunities that interested me when they came along (of course,
sometimes you help make your own opportunities!). If you find good people
doing something that interests you, you can hardly go wrong if you just
jump in and join them.
Goals for the next year
Our laboratory group is pursuing a number of questions associated with
organic materials in space. I'd like to see us make some good progress
on these studies, as our results are turning out to have some important
implications for interstellar and cometary dust (and perhaps the origin
of life). Also, I discovered solid H2 ice in an interstellar dust cloud
last year. Lab studies indicate that H2-containing ices may be common
out there and I'd like to get some more telescopic data to try and confirm
that. Finally, I think I've got a new idea on how the noble gases found
in meteorites got there in the first place and I'd like to test the idea
out using some of our lab equipment.
Just a partial list - I'm married, no children. I read ALOT. I enjoy cross-country
skiing and hiking. I'm learning to play the Tenor Recorder. I have published
some science fiction and humorous articles in the Journal of Irreproducible