Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Brief Bio

Svetlana's research interest involves life detection techniques and biosignature protocols on planetary surfaces. She uses multiwavelength Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy techniques in her analyses. Her work has involved studies of false spectral biosignatures, spectral signatures of biogenic vs. abiogenic macromolecular carbon in terrestrial and meteoritic samples, protocols to aid the Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign, and spectroscopy instrument development to missions to astrobiologically relevant targets. She is a collaborator on the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and a science team member on ESA's ExoMars rover. She is also active in engaging the community in defining and developing life detection mission technology strategies in her work with NASA's Center for Life Detection (CLD).

Research Interests

NASA ISFM for developing tools and engagement strategies to inform life detection mission planning

Solar System: Astrobiology

  • Part of the NASA Network for Life Detection (NFoLD) Center for Life Detection team, an Ames-Goddard ISFM program.
  • Informs science traceability and life detection technology definition
  • Leads the community engagement strategy of the project to increase community awareness, use, participation, and vetting in tools for life detection mission planning efforts such as the Life Detection Knowledge Base (LDKB)
  • Engages relevant communities by sharing the tool’s utility, broadening participation, and managing documentation / reporting of CLD engagement activities

NASA Astrobiology Program Education liason

Solar System: Astrobiology

  • Connects NASA astrobiology materials, subject matter experts (SMEs), and resources to the educators and partners (e.g. NASA Science Activation teams) who would benefit from using them with their learners
  • Maintains and improves existing NASA Astrobiology Program education resources

Mars mission scientist

Solar System: Mars


PhD, Geological Sciences, School of Earth & Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (2016)

Dissertation: "Informing Mars Sample Selection Strategies: Identifying Biosignatures and Assessing their Biosignature Preservation Potential”

MS, Space Studies, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND (2011)

Thesis: “Intrinsic Sunspot Rotations and their Potential Association with Solar Energetic Events”

MA, Mass Communication, Science Track, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (2009)

Thesis: “The NASA Shuttle Program: A local and national newspaper content analysis”

BS, Physics with Interdisciplinary Honors, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL (2007)

Thesis: “Photo-Induced Charge Movement (PICM) Sensors"

Current Projects

NFoLD's Center for Life Detection (CLD) Community Engagement Coordinator


I provide tools and expertise to bridge and enable community participation in the definition and development of life detection technologies and missions. This entails establishing awareness, building a user base, and increasing the use of the Life Detection Forum and associated tools.

Informing Mars 2020 rover sample selection and caching by assessing Raman spectral signatures of shock as indicators of weathering and pristinity

Cerium as a Biosignature Mimicker: Implications for UV fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy instruments for astrobiology missions

Detecting Kerogen as a biosignature using UV Time-Gated Raman and Fluorescence Spectroscopy


Visiting Assistant Research Scientist

Department of Astronomy, UMD - NASA GSFC

2021 - Present

NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Postdoc


2019 - 2021

Postdoctoral Fellow

Carnegie Institution of Washington - Washington DC

February 2017 - March 2019

Graduate Student Research Assistant

School of Earth & Space Exploration - Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe AZ

September 2011 - 2016

Teaching Assistant, “Habitable Worlds" GLG 106 and "Intro to Astronomy," AST 111 courses

School of Earth & Space Exploration - ASU

September 2011 - September 2012

NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Assistant

Space Studies Department - UND, Grand Forks, ND

February 2009 - June 2011

John Mather Scholar Award Intern


July 2010 - September 2010

NASA Academy Intern


June 2009 - September 2009

Undergraduate Student Research Assistant

Department of Physics - University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL

July 2005 - May 2007

Selected Public Outreach

Interviewed in article featured on NASA website

March 2023 - April 2023

I was interviewed for article featured on NASA's website which discusses my newest publication on analyzing meteorite-impacted and altered rocks with Perseverance rover spectroscopy instruments. The study examined the challenges with studies of shocked rock samples and the implications of collecting such samples for Earth return. Read it here.

Guest, Science Decoded podcast

October 2021 - October 2021

I was interviewed on work on biosignature mimickers in Perseverance Rover spectral data sets. Listen here.

Podcast guest, The Debrief Podcast, Episode #5

March 2021 - March 2021

I discussed Perseverance rover, astrobiology, and my career as a guest on this new media outlet's podcast series. Watch it here.

Interviewed for media article for The Debrief

March 2021 - March 2021

I discussed Perseverance Rover and NASA's Mars Sample Return Campaign. Read it here.

Guest, Cosmic Conversations, from California's Academy of Sciences Morrison Planetarium

March 2021 - March 2021

I discussed the history of Mars rovers and astrobiology, including Perseverance's exciting journey. Watch here.

Panelist, Ask an Astrobiologist, Mars 2020 Panel Episode

February 2021 - March 2021

I was invited to join two other colleagues in discussion about Perseverance Rover and all of its exciting planned activities. I focused on laser spectroscopy, biosignature studies, and my career trajectory. Watch it here.

Spotlight feature member

2019 - Present

Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) newsletter, Nov. 2017 edition

Featured on NASA's Search for Life toolkit

2019 - Present

NASA tool to help science communicators to create products and prepare for external interactions with the public

NASA Astrobiology Booth participant, US Science and Engineering Festival

2018 - Present

Conference Meeting Mentor

2017 - Present

AGU 2017 (Undergraduate Mentoring Program) and 2017 AbSciCon (AbSciCon High School Meeting Mentor Program)

Panelist, Opportunities Beyond Academia Careers Panel, AGU Fall Meeting

December 2017 - 2017

Participated in an early career panel with over 100 student participants

Intern Supervisor

2017 - 2018

Mentored intern project on integrating Visible/IR imaging spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy techniques to characterize Mars organics formation mechanisms.

Featured as Highlighted Graduate Student

October 2017 - November 2017

Invited speaker, Mother Daughter Shine Brightly Summit

May 2015 - June 2015

Discussed careers in science at this workshop for middle school girls

Invited Talk, Mentor of the Month series,

April 2014 - May 2014

Talk title: “Bringing 21st century science alive in the classroom through astrobiology and how you can get involved”

Show guest, STEM Journals TV show, season 3, Cox Channel 7

October 2014 - November 2014

Filmed Paleontology episode on fossil biosignature and Mars analog research

NASA FameLab competition participant

March 2013 - June 2014

Gave two 3-minute TED talk-style talks: “Life on Mars” (2013); “Graveyards of life on Mars?” at Phoenix ComicCon (2014).

Guest blogger

2014 - 2015

Wrote this post about conference speaking for a graduate student tips website

Executive Director,

2013 - 2016

Fostering communication & outreach with community of 1000+ astrobiologists, early career scientists, and educators.

Panelist, Phoenix ComiCon

2013 - 2014

Coordinated with panelists across disciplines to run “Mad Scientists,” Astrobiology, and NASA Famelab for ComiCon’s science programming

Freelance Technical Writer

2006 - 2009

Wrote articles for the public for Institution of Engineering and Technology, UNF’s Spinnaker Newspaper, and NASA’s ASK Magazine. Examples available upon request. 


2018, Cover Art, Astrobiology Journal, Nov. 2018 issue

2016, Outstanding Graduate Student Award (ASU)

2016, Graduate and Professional Student Association Graduate Research Award

2015, NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award

2015, Graduate Excellence Award, ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

2014, Strategic University Research Partnership Proposal (SURP)

2013, ASU Space Grant Fellowship

2013, Summer PhD Student Research Award

2011, Robert H. Goddard Memorial Scholarship

2011, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Foundation Scholarship

2011, NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Graduate Assistantship

2009, John Mather Nobel Scholarship

2007, NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium Undergrad Research Grant

2006, UNF Hercules Endowed Scholarship in Physics




Davila, A., T. Hoehler, N. Parenteau, et al. M. Neveu, S. Shkolyar, D. J. Des Marais, S. L. Cady, A. Rios, G. Lau, L. Jahnke, S. Perl, J. L. Eigenbrode, A. Pohorille, and R. Quinn. 2023. Life Detection Knowledge Base: Taxonomy of Potential Biosignatures Astrobiology

Scheller, E. L., J. R. Hollis, E. L. Cardarelli, et al. A. Steele, L. W. Beegle, R. Bhartia, P. Conrad, K. Uckert, S. Sharma, B. L. Ehlmann, W. J. Abbey, S. A. Asher, K. C. Benison, E. L. Berger, O. Beyssac, B. L. Bleefeld, T. Bosak, A. J. Brown, A. S. Burton, S. V. Bykov, E. Cloutis, A. G. Fairén, L. DeFlores, K. A. Farley, D. M. Fey, T. Fornaro, A. C. Fox, M. Fries, K. Hickman-Lewis, W. F. Hug, J. E. Huggett, S. Imbeah, R. S. Jakubek, L. C. Kah, P. Kelemen, M. R. Kennedy, T. Kizovski, C. Lee, Y. Liu, L. Mandon, F. M. McCubbin, K. R. Moore, B. E. Nixon, J. I. Núñez, C. R. Sanchez-Vahamonde, R. D. Roppel, M. Schulte, M. A. Sephton, S. K. Sharma, S. Siljeström, S. Shkolyar, D. L. Shuster, J. I. Simon, R. J. Smith, K. M. Stack, K. Steadman, B. P. Weiss, A. Werynski, A. J. Williams, R. C. Wiens, K. H. Williford, K. Winchell, B. Wogsland, A. Yanchilina, R. Yingling, and M.-P. Zorzano. 2022. Aqueous alteration processes in Jezero crater, Mars−implications for organic geochemistry Science [10.1126/science.abo5204]

Hickman-Lewis, K., K. R. Moore, J. J. Hollis, et al. M. L. Tuite, L. W. Beegle, R. Bhartia, J. P. Grotzinger, A. J. Brown, S. Shkolyar, B. Cavalazzi, and C. L. Smith. 2022. In Situ Identification of Paleoarchean Biosignatures Using Colocated Perseverance Rover Analyses: Perspectives for <i>In Situ</i> Mars Science and Sample Return Astrobiology 22 (9): 1143-1163 [10.1089/ast.2022.0018]

Hollis, J. R., K. R. Moore, S. Sharma, et al. L. Beegle, J. P. Grotzinger, A. Allwood, W. Abbey, R. Bhartia, A. J. Brown, B. Clark, E. Cloutis, A. Corpolongo, J. Henneke, K. Hickman-Lewis, J. A. Hurowitz, M. W. Jones, Y. Liu, J. Martinez-Fr?as, A. Murphy, D. A. Pedersen, S. Shkolyar, S. Siljestr?m, A. Steele, M. Tice, A. Treiman, K. Uckert, S. VanBommel, and A. Yanchilina. 2022. The power of paired proximity science observations: Co-located data from SHERLOC and PIXL on Mars Icarus 115179 []

Shkolyar, S., S. J. Jaret, B. A. Cohen, et al. J. R. Johnson, O. Beyssac, J. M. Madariaga, R. C. Wiens, A. Ollila, S. Holm-Alwmark, and Y. Liu. 2022. Identifying Shocked Feldspar on Mars Using Perseverance Spectroscopic Instruments: Implications for Geochronology Studies on Returned Samples Earth, Moon, and Planets 126 (2): 4 [10.1007/s11038-022-09546-6]

Lalla, E. A., M. Konstantinidis, M. Veneranda, et al. M. G. Daly, J. A. Manrique, E. A. Lymer, J. Freemantle, E. A. Cloutis, J. M. Stromberg, S. Shkolyar, C. Caudill, D. Applin, J. L. Vago, F. Rull, and G. Lopez-Reyes. 2022. Raman Characterization of the CanMars Rover Field Campaign Samples Using the Raman Laser Spectrometer ExoMars Simulator: Implications for Mars and Planetary Exploration Astrobiology [10.1089/ast.2021.0055]

Shkolyar, S., E. Lalla, M. Konstantinidis, et al. K. Cote, M. Daly, and A. Steele. 2020. Detecting Ce3+ as a biosignature mimicker using UV time-resolved laser-induced fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy: Implications for planetary missions Icarus 354 114093 [10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114093]

Lalla, E., S. Shkolyar, C. Gilmour, et al. A. Lozano-Gorrín, M. Konstantinidis, J. Freemantle, and M. Daly. 2020. Structural and vibrational analyses of CePO4 synthetic monazite samples under an optimized precipitation process Journal of Molecular Structure 1223 129150 [10.1016/j.molstruc.2020.129150]

Shkolyar, S., and J. D. Farmer. 2018. Biosignature Preservation Potential in Playa Evaporites: Impacts of Diagenesis and Implications for Mars Exploration Astrobiology 18 (11): 1460-1478 [10.1089/ast.2018.1849]

Shkolyar, S., E. J. Eshelman, J. D. Farmer, et al. D. Hamilton, M. G. Daly, and C. Youngbull. 2018. Detecting Kerogen as a Biosignature Using Colocated UV Time-Gated Raman and Fluorescence Spectroscopy Astrobiology 18 (4): 431-453 [10.1089/ast.2017.1716]

Suer, T.-A., S. Padovan, J. L. Whitten, et al. R. W. Potter, S. Shkolyar, M. Cable, C. Walker, J. Szalay, C. Parker, J. Cumbers, D. Gentry, T. Harrison, S. Naidu, H. J. Trammell, J. Reimuller, C. J. Budney, and L. L. Lowes. 2017. FIRE - Flyby of Io with Repeat Encounters: A conceptual design for a New Frontiers mission to Io Advances in Space Research 60 (5): 1080-1100 [10.1016/j.asr.2017.05.019]

Hardersen, P., K. Balasubramaniam, and S. O. Shkolyar. 2013. Chromospheric mass motions and intrinsic sunspot rotations for NOAA Active Regions 10484, 10486, and 10488 using ISOON data. The Astrophysical Journal 773 (1): 60


Phillips-Lander, C., A. Agha-mohamamdi, J. Wynne, et al. T. Titus, N. Chanover, C. Demirel-Floyd, K. Uckert, K. Williams, D. Wyrick, J. Blank, P. Boston, K. Mitchell, A. Kereszturi, J. Martin-Torres, S. Shkolyar, N. Bardabelias, S. Datta, K. Retherford, L. Sam, A. Bhardwaj, A. Fairén, D. Flannery, and R. Wiens. 2021. Mars Astrobiological Cave and Internal habitability Explorer (MACIE): A New Frontiers Mission Concept Vol. 53, Issue 4 (Planetary/Astrobiology Decadal Survey Whitepapers) 53 (4): [10.3847/25c2cfeb.cf124da3]

Perl, S., S. Adeli, C. Basu, et al. B. K. Baxter, J. Bowman, E. Boyd, M. Cable, A. J. Celestian, C. S. Cockell, F. A. Corsetti, K. L. Craft, A. Engelhart, A. G. Fairen, S. Karunatillake, K. Lynch, S. Potter-McIntyre, F. Rivera-Hernandez, M. Schneegurt, S. Schwenzer, S. Shkolyar, B. Theiling, B. Wade, and J. Zaloumis. 2021. Salty Environments: The importance of evaporites and brine environments as habitats and preservers of biosignatures Vol. 53, Issue 4 (Planetary/Astrobiology Decadal Survey Whitepapers) 53 (4): [10.3847/25c2cfeb.d0fffbba]

Edwards, C., V. Stamenkovic, P. Boston, et al. K. Lynch, J. Tarnas, B. Sherwood-Lollar, S. Atreya, A. Templeton, A. Freeman, W. Fischer, T. Spohn, C. Webster, A. G. Fairén, J. (. Mustard, M. Mischna, T. C. Onstott, M. R. Osburn, T. Kieft, R. E. Grimm, W. B. Brinckerhoff, S. Johnson, L. Beegle, J. Head, A. Haldemann, C. Cockell, J. Hernlund, B. Wilcox, D. Paige, G. Etiope, D. Glavin, M.-P. Zorzano, Y. Sekine, S. Fabien, J. Kirschvink, C. Magnabosco, R. Orosei, M. Grott, J. D. Rummel, A. Kobayashi, F. Inagaki, J. Bishop, V. Chevrier, M. S. Bell, B. N. Orcutt, J. McIntosh, K. Miljkovic, D. Breuer, T. Usui, K. Zacny, E. Heggy, E. G. Rivera-Valentín, N. J. Barba, R. Woolley, O. Warr, M. Malaska, J. G. Blank, D. F. Ruffatto, H. M. Sapers, L. H. Matthies, L. Ward, S. Shkolyar, C. Schmelzbach, T. S. Gabriel, C. Parker, H. H. Bolivar-Torres, B. Pál, D. Schulze-Makuch, J. A. Celis, A. Kereszturi, J. A. Spry, K. Uckert, M. A. Hesse, R. Harris, A.-C. Plesa, R. Hu, A.-A. Agha-mohammadi, B. D. Wade, S. Chatterjee, P. McGarey, H. V. Graham, S. Suzuki, M. Schrenk, K. Sherrill, S. Howe, R. Manthena, M. Burgin, K. Carpenter, L. Giersch, V. Cormarkovic, N. Smith, J. J. McDonnell, J. Michalski, D. Jha, M. L. Cable, E. Gloesener, V. Paul, S. Gault, S. Kedar, E. Marteau, O. Temel, S. Krieger, and R. Timoney. 2021. Deep Trek: Mission Concepts for Exploring Subsurface Habitability & Life on Mars — A Window into Subsurface Life in the Solar System Vol. 53, Issue 4 (Planetary/Astrobiology Decadal Survey Whitepapers) 53 (4): [10.3847/25c2cfeb.5f50cebc]

Carrasco-Martos, S., G. Cataldo, L. Cully, et al. H. Fingerhut, T. Garrett, H. Hui, F. Keels, E. Lee, V. Martin, K. McCoy, Z. Merceruio, M. Neveu, M. Piltz, E. Reiff, L. Sandberg, S. Shkolyar, E. Timmons, and A. Willingham. 2009. "The Odysseus Project: NASA's Vision for Reaching the Stars" NASA GSFC Report

Talks, Presentations and Posters


Informing Perseverance Mars Rover Raman and Fluorescence Studies of Fossil Biosignatures: Predictions and Recent Mission Data.


Invited talk, Agenastro 3rd International Astrobiology Conference.

Biosignature Detection with Raman and Fluorescence Spectroscopy: Informing Perseverance Rover


Invited talk (virtual), GA Tech Planetary & Astrobiology Seminar series.  

Introduction to Astrobiology and my path there


NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) 2019 Annual Meeting, Greenbelt, MD.

Mars biosignature studies: From the field to the lab to the rover.


Presentation at several seminars, June through August 2018:

  • Inaugural JHU Applied Physics Lab astrobiology seminar
  • GSFC Solar system exploration seminar
  • Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) weekly seminar


The Life Detection Forum: Building a framework for life detection


Presented at the April 2023 Code 600 GSFC Director's Seminar Series

Mineral and Trace Element Identification in Jezero Crater, Mars, with SuperCam’s Time-Resolved Raman (TRR) and Luminescence Techniques.


A. Ollila, O. Beyssac, and the SuperCam Raman Working Group, incl. S. Shkolyar. EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13939.

SuperCam on the Perseverance Rover for Exploration of Jezero Crater: Remote LIBS, VISIR, Raman, and Time-Resolved Luminescence Spectroscopies Plus Micro-Imaging and Acoustics.


R. C. Wiens, et. al., including S. Shkolyar. LPI Contrib. No. 1182 (virtual).

Professional Service

2022 - Reviewer, NASA Early Career Collaborator Award

2020 - present, Proposal Reviewer, NASA GSFC Red Team

2017 - present, NASA Panel Reviewer, in-person and external (NESSF, MDAP, Exobiology, FINNEST, ECA)

2017-2018, Member, Carnegie Institution of Washington, GL-DTM Joint Department Library Committee

2017, Session Convener, Conference Session Convener, AbSciCon 2017

2015, Grant reviewer for ASU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association

2014, Astrobiology Theme Group integrator, 8th International Mars Conference

2012-2016, Reviewer, ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association Student Grant

2011, Seminar Coordinator, ASU Astrobiology Coffee Hour Seminars

2009, Volunteer, Mars Society 12th Annual International Convention

2004-2007, UNF Society of Physics Students; President (2005-2007); Treasurer (2004).