Lena Vincent

Dr. Lena Vincent is an experimental astrobiologist studying biosignature preservation on Ocean Worlds and developing life detection strategies for future astrobiology missions. Prior to joining JPL as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, she obtained her doctorate from UW-Madison where she researched the chemical origins of life on Earth. She is also an accomplished science communicator and creates content to bring astrobiology and general science topics to a broad audience, primarily through social media (@astrobiolena on all platforms).

  • B.Sc. in Cell Molecular Biology & Physiology, California State University-Long Beach, 2015
  • Biotechnology Certificate, California State University-Long Beach, 2015
  • M.Sc. in Biology, California State University-Northridge, 2017
  • Ph.D. in Astrobiology & Prebiotic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2022

Research Interests: 
  • Chemical analysis of biosignatures and life detection
  • Astrobiology of Ocean Worlds
  • Extremophiles
  • Prebiotic chemistry and the origin of life on Earth
  • Synthetic biology and genetic engineering

Professional Experience: 
  • NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2022-present)
  • Future Investigator in NASA Earth & Space Science & Technology (FINESST) Fellow (2020-2022)
  • Teaching Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2019-2020)
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Wisconsin Institute of Discovery (2017-2019)
  • National Institutes of Health RISE Graduate Fellow, California State University-Northridge (2015-2017)
  • Bridges Stem Cell Program Fellow, California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (2014-2015)

Selected Awards: 
  • NASA NPP Fellowship Award, 2022
  • NASA FINESST Award, 2020
  • Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Scholarship, 2017
  • California State University Graduate Equity Fellowship, 2017
  • Sally Casanova Graduate Scholarship, 2017
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2017

Selected Publications: 
  1. Vincent, L., Colón-Santos, S., Cleaves, H. J., Baum, D. A., & Maurer, S. E. (2021). The Prebiotic Kitchen: A Guide to Composing Prebiotic Soup Recipes to Test Origins of Life Hypotheses. Life, 11(11), 1221.
  2. Vincent, L., Berg, M., Krismer, M., Saghafi, S. T., Cosby, J., Sankari, T., Vetsigian, K., Cleaves, H.J., & Baum, D. A. (2019). Chemical ecosystem selection on mineral surfaces reveals long-term dynamics consistent with the spontaneous emergence of mutual catalysis. Life, 9(4), 80.
  3. Mizuuchi, R., Blokhuis, A., Vincent, L., Nghe, P., Lehman, N., & Baum, D. (2019). Mineral surfaces select for longer RNA molecules. Chemical communications, 55(14), 2090-2093.
  4. Quintero, D., Carrafa, J., Vincent, L., Kim, H. J., Wohlschlegel, J., & Bermudes, D. (2018). Co-Expression of a Chimeric Protease Inhibitor Secreted by a Tumor-Targeted Salmonella Protects Therapeutic Proteins from Proteolytic Degradation. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology, 28(12), 2079.
  5. Quintero, D., Carrafa, J., Vincent, L., & Bermudes, D. (2016). EGFR‐targeted Chimeras of Pseudomonas ToxA released into the extracellular milieu by attenuated Salmonella selectively kill tumor cells. Biotechnology and bioengineering, 113(12), 2698-2711.
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