Monica Rae Vidaurri

Monica Rae Vidaurri

  • SCIENCE CONSULTANT
  • 301.286.3328
  • NASA/GSFC
  • Mail Code: 693
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: HOWARD UNIV
  • Brief Bio

    Monica Vidaurri works as a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, specializing in astrobiology, policy, and ethics. Her astrobiology background is in exoplanet atmospheric characterization, observational astronomy, the early Earth, and telescope operations. Her policy experiences lie in international law, governance, and science policy. The two fields meet at the intersection of ethics, planetary protection, and space policy, which fuels her passions in ensuring that humanity adopts proactive, transparent, and ethical standards of space exploration, as well as bridging the gaps between the science world and the policy world. 

    Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Monica moved to Washington, DC in 2017 to do a semester internship in the United States Senate. That internship turned into various jobs related to biodefense, space policy, biology, and federal workforce management in other branches of government, other government agencies, the private sector, and the non-profit sector.

    Monica's bachelor's degrees are in biology and government and international politics, with a concentration in law, philosophy, and governance. Monica is currently looking to apply to PhD programs.

    Current Projects

    Astrobiology project #1

    Modeling planetary albedos of various classes of Kepler and Tess planets, including applying signal processing to phase curves and studying periodicity.

    Astrobiology project #2

    Modeling present-day and Archaean Earth across the habitable zone.

    Astrobiology Primer 3.0 author

    Author of Ch.10: Ethics, Planetary Protection, and Policy and Ch.9: Life as we Don't Know It

    Education

    2014-2016: University of North Texas

    BA: Biology, Political Science

     

    2017-2020: George Mason University

    BA: Biology, Government and International Politics

    Concentration in Law, Philosophy, and Governance

     

     

    Professional Societies

    American Geophysical Union, 2020 - Present
    Member

    Professional Service

    National Biodefense Strategy – A Space-Minded Review

    Consulted with various government agencies via white paper and other communications on the subject of the 2018 National Biodefense Strategy​ and its lack of deliberation of space applications. 

    Other Professional Information

    • GeoLatinas: Founding Member, Co-Chair on Committee of Sustainability
    • NASA GSFC Bridge Program Co-Founder (Expected start: Fall 2021)
    • SGAC Ethics Committee: council member

    Special Experience

    • George Mason University/IRTF Student Observer (Spring/Summer 2018)
    • George Mason University campus telescope coding manager
    • Modeling and analyzing trends in NASA budgets, specifically pertaining to flagship missions, to predict future mission trends

    Publications

    Refereed

    Vidaurri, M. R., S. D. Domagal-Goldman, J. Brande, et al. A. R. Wofford, G. Black-Planas, and J. Haqq-Misra. 2019. "Absolute Prioritization of Planetary Protection, Safety, and Avoiding Imperialism in All Future Science Missions: A Policy Perspective." Elsevier Space Policy,

    Talks, Presentations and Posters

    Invited

    Science Shaping Law: The Need for a Policy and Ethics Approach to Science (APL)

    1 / 15 / 2020

    Science Shaping Law: The Need for a Policy and Ethics Approach to Science 

    10 / 24 / 2019

    Given the inevitability of the private sector influencing future crewed and non-crewed
    missions, both in and beyond low Earth orbit, it is important that the science community
    strengthens, agrees upon, and adopts ethics, anti-colonization, and planetary protection protocol on an international level, beginning with the establishment of norms. As scientists,
    we must create the internal and international norm of ethical science practices, and ensure
    the want to progress scienti cally does not precede the right of communities to exist and
    participate in space. Practicing these norms ultimately shapes domestic and international
    law, and the custom of early collaboration with ethicists and planetary protection specialists
    is critical for not only mission safety, but mission and science integrity. The most pressing
    of these norms is establishing within the science mission traceability matrix planetary
    protection, ethics, and anti-colonization, which must fall shortly after mission conception.
    Maintaining a safe, responsible, and anti-imperialist space for peaceful purposes cannot wait for governments to create these practices de jure, but must be coordinated starting at the individual level in practice, de facto.

    Other

    Ethics of Space Exploration: Science Setting the Precedent for Law and Policy
     

    7 / 2019

    The current landscape of space law is nearly nonexistent, highly dependent on norms, and of the universal scientific understanding of space as a peaceful medium for the advancement of human technological and scientific capabilities. Given the inevitability of the private sector influencing future crewed and non-crewed missions, both in and beyond low Earth orbit, it is especially crucial that the science community strengthens, agrees upon, and adopts planetary protection, ethics, and anti-colonization protocol on an international level, beginning with the individual establishment of norms.

    As future PIs and managers, we must create the internal and international norm of collaboration with planetary protection and ethics, including anti-imperialism, at the forefront of our science missions. These norms ultimately shape international law, and the custom of early and regular collaboration with ethicists and protection specialists is absolutely crucial for not only mission safety, but mission and science integrity. The most critical of these norms is their establishment very early in the science traceability matrix, and with continuous assessment.
     

    Creating a safe, collaborative, and anti-imperialist space for peaceful purposes cannot wait for governments to create these practices de jure, but must be started and remain transparent at the individual level and regarded as custom de facto.
     

    Selected Public Outreach

    Apollo 50th Event: Meet a Scientist 7 / 2019 - 7 / 2019

    Discussed my job as an astrobiologist and policy and ethics specialist to various elementary school classrooms via webcast.

    Brief Bio

    Monica Vidaurri works as a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, specializing in astrobiology, policy, and ethics. Her astrobiology background is in exoplanet atmospheric characterization, observational astronomy, the early Earth, and telescope operations. Her policy experiences lie in international law, governance, and science policy. The two fields meet at the intersection of ethics, planetary protection, and space policy, which fuels her passions in ensuring that humanity adopts proactive, transparent, and ethical standards of space exploration, as well as bridging the gaps between the science world and the policy world. 

    Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Monica moved to Washington, DC in 2017 to do a semester internship in the United States Senate. That internship turned into various jobs related to biodefense, space policy, biology, and federal workforce management in other branches of government, other government agencies, the private sector, and the non-profit sector.

    Monica's bachelor's degrees are in biology and government and international politics, with a concentration in law, philosophy, and governance. Monica is currently looking to apply to PhD programs.

    Publications

    Refereed

    Vidaurri, M. R., S. D. Domagal-Goldman, J. Brande, et al. A. R. Wofford, G. Black-Planas, and J. Haqq-Misra. 2019. "Absolute Prioritization of Planetary Protection, Safety, and Avoiding Imperialism in All Future Science Missions: A Policy Perspective." Elsevier Space Policy

                                                                                                                                                                                            
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