Aspirations of An #ArtemisGeneration Pathways Intern- Jetro Gallo

Jetro Gallo, Spring 2022 Intern
Photo Credit- Norah Moran

What is an aspiration? According to Webster, an aspiration is the “strong desire to achieve something high or great.” While to some, there is nothing higher or greater than the stars. For Jetro Gallo, a Pathways Intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, his aspirations go even further by learning as much as he can now so that he can help others through eventual leadership and mentorship opportunities.

From the Beginning

Gallo’s professional background starts off in the Marine Corps. Serving as a platoon sergeant, he found that the most satisfying and fulfilling things was to give back to others. In one instance, he nominated a junior marine to receive a Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal. After going through the process, the nomination was accepted and approved and Gallo got the opportunity to present the medal at a ceremony. Gallo remembers the marine being stunned but thankful to see that he was recognized for his work.

Current Aspirations

Gallo’s path to NASA goes through the Pathways Internship program. This program offers a direct pipeline to full-time employment at NASA upon graduation. His first work rotation was in the ISS Procurement Office where he had a great amount of support from his mentors.

Once he becomes proficient at his job, he aspires to become the Manager or Deputy Manager of a whole office one. He believe these roles will satisfy a fulfillment in me to give back to others. During his time, he wants to develop a deep sense of understanding himself in terms of leadership and his abilities to provide ways to inspire, motivate, and propel the whole teams to move forward. This is all propelled by his drive to constantly find ways to continue growing, developing, and improving for the honor of serving the teams who look to him so that he can make sound judgments to propel NASA forward in all the agencies’ goals.

A Look Into the Future

So, what does the future hold? For starters, Gallo wants to fix the gap of students not thinking that they are capable. He also wants to help showcase their young minds so that they can achieve great things and spark their interest in the aerospace industry. Another aspiration of his is to establish a school in my birth country (Philippines). He would love to give back to birth country of the Philippines to inspire, motivate, and provide opportunities for the young citizens in his poverty-stricken province by assisting with their education.

How to Be a NASA Intern

What’s your aspirations? If you aspire to be a NASA Intern, check out our website for the requirements and application deadlines. For a head start, we created a piece on the 10 things you can do to prepare for a NASA Internship. Or check out our blog for more inspirational stories of all the amazing things our NASA Interns do.

3 Life Lessons From NASA Interns

NASA Internships provide students with valuable skills, knowledge, and wisdom to carry with them into their future careers. Here from three current NASA interns on what they took away from their own internships.

1. Don’t Limit Yourself, Jorge Levario-Delagarza

“I learned through my time at NASA to not constrain myself or limit myself to what I think I can do but instead to embark on challenges I do not know if I can accomplish,” Jorge Levario-Delagarz said. “There is a great opportunity for growth in taking on a challenge that is brand new to you. There is a lot of struggle in taking on a brand new challenge but there is also new skills waiting to be learned, new ways of thinking waiting to be developed and a new experience waiting to be lived.”

As a first-generation college student studying mechanical engineering at the University of Texas Arlington, Delagarza always dreamed of one day working at NASA. Delagarza currently works as a Fractional Thermal Runaway Calorimetry Engineering Intern supporting NASA’s Power and Propulsion Division.

Through his internship, Delagarza is researching ways to enhance the safety of manned space flight by preventing and controlling hazardous effects of Thermal Runaway batteries.

“When humans work together towards a common goal, it doesn’t really matter if the goal is a quarter of a million miles away or if there are only a few years to achieve it. Ambition and togetherness can help get the job done,” Delagarza said.

Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza
Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza

2. Passion is Powerful, Pia Sen

 “NASA has taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to as long as I remain passionate about my work,” Pia Sen said. “I am lucky enough to love my research, and NASA inspires me every day by creating an environment where everyone sees the beauty and exciting parts of science so even the everyday things feel like they contribute towards a bigger mission.”

After watching the movie, The Martian, as a freshman in college, Sen became fascinated with the study of space biology. Sen is now participating in her seventh NASA internship while attending George Washington University as a first year PhD student studying environmental microbiology. Sen currently works with the International Space Station integration group, finding new ways to track research on the space station.

“During my time at NASA, I’ve learned that there are so many moving parts that go into making science happen in space, and I’ve learned to appreciate the necessity of working with people of different backgrounds and expertise to make science happen smoothly in space,” Sen said.

Credits: Pia Sen
Credits: Pia Sen

3. Do Your Best Regardless of the Task, Dominic Tanzillo

“Not all of my tasks were scholarly and sometimes I have needed to clean supply closets, move boxes, or help with IT issues. These extremes have reinforced the idea that there is never a job too big or too small and to always fully engage with work,” Dominic Tanzillo said.

Growing up, Tanzillo was surrounded by stories and the excitement of NASA. His grandfather worked as an engineer during the Apollo Program by learning calculus from mail order catalogs.

“Stories from him and my mom watching the Apollo 17 launch have always stayed with me but my heart has always been in medicine.”

Tanzillo is currently a student at Duke University studying math and neuroscience, planning to pursue a career in space medicine. He now interns at Johnson Space Center in the engineering directorate, working to integrate biometric devices to measure the cognitive states of Air Force and NASA pilots.

“I have loved applying classroom lessons to the real world and learning that often, the clean black and white categories we learn in school are often a bit messier and fuzzier,” Tanzillo said.

Credits: Dominic Tanzillo
Credits: Dominic Tanzillo

Interns are playing a key role in the advancement NASA’s mission, exploration, and discovery.  Through the Artemis Generation, NASA is seeking to accomplish the goal of sending the first woman and first person of color to the moon. Are you interested in playing your own role by pursuing a NASA internship? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps.

Megan Hale / NASA Johnson Space Center

Research on Plants in Space Leads to Law Degree

‘Not only did I feel supported at all times, but I also felt encouraged to pursue my passions.’ Josie Pechous worked at NASA Kennedy Space Center as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production intern. Photo credit: (NASA /Josie Pechous).
‘Not only did I feel supported at all times, but I also felt encouraged to pursue my passions.’ Josie Pechous worked at NASA Kennedy Space Center as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production intern. Photo credit: (NASA /Josie Pechous).

As spaceflight exploration ventures deeper into our solar system, astronauts will need a fresh, sustainable food source to maintain health and wellness. Understanding how plants are affected in spaceflight enables researchers to optimize growing conditions for peak nutritional value and harvest index,’ Josie Pechous said.

While at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Josie worked as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production Intern. She compared transcriptomes of previous plant spaceflight missions to identify any genes or signaling pathways that may be useful for future successful space crop production. She began her internship researching spaceflight-induced stressors on the human body. With an interest in plants and nutrition, Josie sought information on how the right diet can boost astronaut health, performance, and wellbeing.

Josie also composed a literature review on microgreens: small, nutrient-dense plants requiring little horticultural demands. She highlighted their nutritional composition, growing conditions, and potential for sustaining life on long-range spaceflight missions to supplement the pre-packaged spaceflight diet.

Mentorship was integral in making Josie’s internship a rewarding experience. Christina M. Johnson assigned a project that worked with Josie’s career goals and encouraged her to direct research to areas that matched her interests.

‘Focusing on a subject that I was passionate about while supporting NASA objectives was such a gratifying experience. Further gratifying has been the continued connection between me and my mentor post-internship. Although over a year has passed . . . my mentor continues to support me,’ Josie said.

The first growth test of crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) aboard the International Space Station. The APH is a growth chamber on station for plant research. It uses LED lights and a porous clay substrate with controlled release fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots. Photo credit: (NASA/International Space Station).
The first growth test of crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) aboard the International Space Station. The APH is a growth chamber on station for plant research. It uses LED lights and a porous clay substrate with controlled release fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots. Photo credit: (NASA/International Space Station).

After Josie’s internship, her research was incorporated into a scientific article, ‘Large-Scale Crop Production for the Moon and Mars: Current Gaps and Future Perspectives.’ She recently attended the American Society for Gravitation and Space Research annual conference and presented on the advantages of microgreen carotenoid composition for space travel.

Josie completed her degree at Drake University in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology. She now studies at Vermont Law School, pursuing food and agriculture law and policy for a sustainable future.

Interested in becoming a member of the team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. Want more content? Check out ten things you can do now to prepare for a NASA Internship.

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center

Mentorship is Vital to the Internship Experience

‘Our mentors, engineers, and people from other teams and projects were always accessible whenever we had roadblocks. They provided thorough feedback on our work and gave us a great technical experience.’ Kyndall Jones sitting in a cockpit at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The computer-science major at Howard University worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an software engineer and instrument operations intern. Photo credit: (NASA JPL/Kyndall Jones).
‘Our mentors, engineers, and people from other teams and projects were always accessible whenever we had roadblocks. They provided thorough feedback on our work and gave us a great technical experience.’ Kyndall Jones sitting in a cockpit at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The computer-science major at Howard University worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an software engineer and instrument operations intern. Photo credit: (NASA JPL/Kyndall Jones).

Despite the telework nature of this summer’s internship, Kyndall said that even from her home in Dayton, Ohio, she has been able to foster connections with JPL employees and gain valuable experience in her role working on software for an Earth-science instrument that will help NASA understand how different types of air pollution, which can cause serious health problems, affect human health.

And thanks to her mentor, Operations Systems Engineer Janelle Wellons, Kyndall was able to get the type of hands-on NASA experience that’s been hard to come by since the pandemic.

Photo credit: (NASA JPL Cal-Tech/Janelle Wellons).
Photo credit: (NASA JPL Cal-Tech/Janelle Wellons).

‘My mentor Janelle suggested that I come visit Los Angeles for a few days this summer, and I was finally able to visit and explore the city for the first time,’ Kyndall said. ‘I am also super grateful for her setting up a tour at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center where we were able to view, tour, and learn lots of interesting facts about NASA’s historical aircraft.’

Janelle splits her time operating instruments aboard several Earth-observing missions. She has been  involved in previous years’ roundtable discussions with historically black colleges and university interns. Being from the East Coast herself, Wellons remembers having little awareness of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a potential career landing spot while studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

‘Getting visibility and actually partnering with these schools to make these internships happen is so important . . . [internships] benefit JPL by broadening the talent pool and diversity of our workforce,’ Janelle said.

While interning under Janelle, Kyndall worked on the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) project. MAIA will make radiometric and polarimetric measurements needed to characterize the sizes, compositions and quantities of particulate matter in air pollution.

‘I can confidently say I wouldn’t have grown and learned as much as I have without their [mentors] constant feedback, support . . . and guidance.’

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. Want more content? Check out five important tips and words of advice from women interns in STEM.

Excerpts taken from the features writer for Internal Communications at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Taylor Hill, and his article on JPL Internship Program Expanding Diversity in STEM.

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center