Jessica Watkins


Jessica Watkins
Jessica Watkins official portrait.jpg
Jessica Andrea Watkins

(1988-05-14) May 14, 1988 (age 33)
Alma materStanford University (BS)
University of California, Los Angeles (MS, PhD)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Current occupation
SelectionNASA Group 22
MissionsSpaceX Crew-4 (Expedition 67/68)
Mission insignia
SpaceX Crew 4 logo.pngIss67 patch01-lg.jpg
Scientific career
ThesisTectonic and Aqueous Processes in the Formation of Mass-wasting Features on Mars and Earth (2015)
Doctoral advisorAn Yin

Jessica Andrea Watkins (born May 14, 1988) is a NASA astronaut, geologist, aquanaut and former international rugby player.

Early life and education

Jessica Watkins was born on May 14, 1988 in Gaithersburg, Maryland to Michael and Carolyn Watkins.[1][2] Her family moved to Lafayette, Colorado, where she graduated from Fairview High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in geological and environmental sciences at Stanford University, and was a member of the rugby team. After Stanford, Watkins earned a Ph.D. in geology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her graduate research, under the supervision of Professor An Yin, focused on emplacement mechanisms for landslides on Mars and Earth, including the effect of water activity.[3] Prior to her selection as an astronaut candidate, Watkins was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where she was also an assistant coach to the women's basketball team.[1][4][5]

Rugby career

Watkins began playing rugby during her freshman year at Stanford and remained on the team for four years. During her sophomore year, she was a member of the Division I national champion team. She is a former American women's national team rugby player for the sevens, and played for the USA Eagles in its 3rd-place finish at the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens. During the World Cup she was the leading try scorer for the US team.[5][6]

NASA career

Watkins as a NASA candidate in June 2017

As an undergraduate, Watkins worked at the Ames Research Center to support the Mars Phoenix lander and prototype Mars drill testing. She was also a chief geologist for the NASA Spaceward Bound Crew 86 at the Mars Desert Research Station. As a graduate student, she worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the NEOWISE project to survey near-Earth asteroids, and she is a collaborator on the Mars rover Curiosity. She has served as a planner for the Mars 2020 rover and a Mars sample-return mission, and was a science team member for a Desert Research and Technology Studies analog mission.[1] As a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, and as a collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory Science Team, she participated in daily planning of the Mars rover activities and uses its image data combined with orbital data to investigate the stratigraphy, geology, and geomorphology of Mars.[7]

In June 2017, Watkins was selected as a member of NASA Astronaut Group 22 and began her two-year training in August.[1][8] In December 2020, she was selected to be a part of the Artemis Team to return humans to the Moon.[9] In November 2021, she became the 4th astronaut of Group 22 to be assigned a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) after being chosen as the final member of SpaceX Crew-4, scheduled to launch in April 2022.[10]


Watkins participated in NEEMO mission 23 from June 10 to June 22, 2019.[11] This mission tested technologies and objectives for deep space mission and lunar explorations on the seafloor.

Personal life

Watkins' parents live in Lafayette, Colorado. Her hobbies include soccer, rock climbing, skiing, and creative writing.[1]

Awards and honors

During her academic career, Watkins received numerous awards, including a Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences Chair's Postdoctoral Fellowship, a California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Postdoctoral Fellowship, the UCLA Department of Earth and Space Sciences Harold and Mayla Sullwold Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Outstanding Original Research, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in Geosciences, the Geological Society of America Diversity in the Geosciences Minority Research Grant Award, the UCLA Chancellor's Prize, and a California Space Grant Consortium Fellowship. While working for NASA, she was part of the Mars Science Laboratory Prime Mission Science and Operations Team that received a NASA Group Achievement Award, and she was offered a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship in Planetary Science. She was an All-American rugby player from 2008–2010.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Garcia, Mark (February 7, 2018). "Astronaut Candidate Jessica Watkins". NASA. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jessica Andrea Watkins". Biographies of U.S. Astronauts. Spacefacts. April 19, 2018. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  3. ^ Watkins, Jessica (2015). Tectonic and Aqueous Processes in the Formation of Mass-wasting Features on Mars and Earth (PhD). UCLA.
  4. ^ Watkins, Jessica A.; Ehlmann, Bethany L.; Yin, An (2015-02-01). "Long-runout landslides and the long-lasting effects of early water activity on Mars". Geology. 43 (2): 107–110. Bibcode:2015Geo....43..107W. doi:10.1130/G36215.1. ISSN 0091-7613.
  5. ^ a b "Jessica Watkins profile". Caltech Beavers. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  6. ^ Eymer, Rick (May 3, 2008). "Stanford women win national rugby club championship". Palo Alto Online. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  7. ^ "Tectonic and Aqueous Processes in the Formation of Mass-wasting Features on Mars and Earth - ProQuest". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  8. ^ Harwood, William (June 7, 2017). "NASA introduces 12 new astronauts". CBS News. CBS Broadcasting. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  9. ^ "NASA The Artemis Team". NASA. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  10. ^ "NASA Assigns Astronaut Jessica Watkins to NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 Mission". NASA. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  11. ^ Emily Toomey (July 29, 2019). "NASA Scientists and Astronauts Practice for Space Missions on the Seafloor". Smithsonian magazine.