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Salinas AgTech Meetup: Red Planet Meets Green Science

Posted on May 17, 2017 16:14 PM by elyons

The Salinas AgTech Meetup took place on Tuesday, May 16, inside the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology. This evening of insightful agtech discussion was emceed by Dennis Donohue, lead of the WGCIT, and included “questions and answers” at the end of the presentation.

Dr. James Newman, NASA astronaut and professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, lead the discussion during the agtech meetup, where he examined farming on Mars and on other planets.

By Elon Musk's schedule, the first colonists will arrive on Mars within 10 years…and they'll have to eat. Dr. Newman’s talk centered around the fact that single-planet species have not fared well in the past (i.e. dinosaurs).

“Humans should be looking outside of the earth for places that we can colonize, as well as be stewards of the planet we currently inhabit,” said Newman to attendees.

Dr. Newman assumed the position of Chairman, Space Systems Academic Group on October 1, 2016.  Prior to his designation as the chairman, Dr. Newman was the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Acting Provost from 5 October 5, 2015 to August 29, 2016. NASA selected Dr. Newman into its astronaut program in 1990.  Dr. Newman’s space flight experience includes four missions aboard the Space Shuttles Discovery, Endeavour, and Columbia. Newman came to NPS’ Space Systems Academic Group in 2006 as a NASA Visiting Professor.  He subsequently transferred from NASA in 2008 to the Department of the Navy to accept a tenure-track professorship at NPS. 

Newman received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Dartmouth College in 1978 and a Master of Arts degree and Doctorate in Physics from Rice University in 1982 and 1984, respectively.  After graduating from Rice University in 1984, Newman performed post-doctoral research and remains an adjunct professor in Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.