Red planet adventures

ISU student Gabrielle Ledesma and assistant professor of geologi

Everyone knows Mars is called the Red Planet. But maybe its other nickname should be the Cardinal and Gold Planet. After all, with important research being conducted by Iowa State students like Gabrielle Ledesma ('20 geology) and team, conditions on Mars that led to its red surface are becoming clearer by the day.

As one of Iowa State's many talented undergraduates, Ledesma knows a thing or two about science. Not only has she studied anoxic lake systems on Earth with assistant professor in geological and atmospheric sciences Elizabeth Swanner, she's also been honored with the Iowa State Dean's High Impact Undergraduate Research Award. Now she's on a team funded by an Iowa Space Grant to study the manganese enrichment uncovered by NASA's Curiosity Rover, which will help scientists further understand how Mars acquired its characteristic color.

With her success as a student, it may be surprising that when Ledesma transferred to Iowa State, she wasn't exactly sure what she wanted to study. But with help from professors like Swanner, she quickly figured it out. Said Ledesma, "My major in geology and minor in international studies both came about because of passionate professors at Iowa State who truly cared about their field and helping students like me find a path for my interests."

Undergraduate research opportunities can be found all across Iowa State. So can support from professors, faculty and staff. No matter what major you choose, here you'll be part of a culture that builds you up and allows you to shine. Just like the rising star you are.

Learn about other Cyclones and their adventures and nominate a Cyclone whose adventure story needs to be shared.