Scientists to discuss NASA’s efforts to sustain life on Mars at next Dixie Forum

By Jyl Hall

Two scientists working with NASA to develop a self-sustaining life support system on Mars will present about their work at the next installment of Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series Dixie Forum: A Window on the World.

Dr. Lance Seefeldt

Utah State University professors Dr. Lance Seefeldt and Dr. Bruce Bugbee will present “Life Support on Mars” at noon on March 6 in the Dunford Auditorium, located in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State campus. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

For 50 years, NASA has studied the challenges of recycling air and water to grow food in a closed system. In theory, this life-support system can operate forever and be independent of the Earth. To help with the project’s challenges, such as replicating all of Earth’s

Dr. Bruce Bugbee

functions without atmosphere and oceans to buffer mistakes, NASA initiated a 5-year collaborative project with a group of universities. As two of the scientists working to use the resources on Mars to develop a self-sustaining life support system, Seefeldt and Bugbee will describe the status and challenges of their work.

A professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at USU, Seefeldt was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research on nitrogen fixation has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and NASA. Additionally, he is the recipient of the College of Science Teacher and

Researcher of the Year and the D. Wynn Thorne Career Research Award. Seefeldt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Redlands, California and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside in addition to completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Metalloenzyme Studies at the University of Georgia.

Bugbee, a professor of crop physiology at USU, has had a majority of his research funded by NASA to study food production in closed environments like space missions. His research led to his selection for the 2011 Governors Medal for Science and Technology and the D. Wynne Thorne award for his lifetime accomplishments. Bugbee earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, a master’s from the University of California, Davis and his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University.

Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George and Dixie State communities to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation. Dixie Forum will be on recess when Dixie State is on Spring Break but will resume March 20. Dr. Lincoln Nadauld, executive director of Precision Medicine and Precision Genomics at Intermountain Healthcare, and DSU students will present about their contributions to cutting-edge cancer genomics research taking place at Stanford University.

For more information about Dixie State University’s Dixie Forum series, contact DSU Forum Coordinator John Burns at 435-879-4712 or burns@dixie.edu or visit humanities.dixie.edu/the-dixie-forum.