Kasthuri Venkateswaran, PhD, DAg
Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran (Venkat) is the Senior Research Scientist at NASA – Jet Propulsion Laboratory and supports Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group. His 42+ years of research encompass marine, food, and environmental microbiology. He is also leading ISS “Microbial Observatory” projects to measure microorganisms associated with ISS surfaces and air. He has applied his research in molecular microbial analysis to better understand the ecological aspects of microbes, while conducting field studies in several extreme environments such as deep sea, hydrothermal vents, hot springs etc. His team consists of experts to measure low biomass surfaces (spacecraft, assembly facility clean rooms) and also exposes hardy microorganisms using ISS as test bed for the space environment. His research into the study of nutrient-deprived oligotrophic environment using state-of-the art molecular analysis coupled with nucleic acid next generation sequencing technology will allow accurate interpretation of data and implementation of planetary protection policies of present missions, helping to set standards for future life-detection missions.