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JPL Educator to Describe His Path From Venezuela to Deep-Sea Exploration

Immigrant chemist turned NASA educator to bring undersea discoveries to Pasadena Rotary audience

Published on Monday, June 3, 2024 | 4:00 am
 

In a remarkable journey spanning continents and disciplines, Brandon Rodriguez will soon embark on a pioneering deep-sea expedition, serving as a bridge between the depths of the Pacific Ocean and the city of Pasadena. Born in Venezuela, Rodriguez immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of 12, carrying with him a curiosity that would eventually propel him into the realms of chemistry, astrophysics, and now, underwater exploration.

After years of conducting research as a scientist, Rodriguez found his true calling in education, joining the ranks of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an Educator Professional Development Specialist. 

From this unique vantage point, he will share his insights and experiences with the Pasadena Rotary Club in an open-to-the-public talk on Wednesday, June 5, 2024.

At the University Club of Pasadena, Rodriguez will deliver a presentation titled “Ship to Shore: A Conversation from the Pacific Ocean to Pasadena.” Recently selected as the Lead Science Communication Fellow for Ocean Exploration Trust’s 2024 Expedition aboard Dr. Robert Ballard’s Exploration Vessel Nautilus, Rodriguez will board the ship around June 4 for the research voyage docked in British Columbia, Canada.

According to a statement from Ocean Exploration Trust, the 21-day expedition will focus on supporting Ocean Networks Canada’s cabled observatory NEPTUNE (Northeast Pacific Undersea Networked Experiments) off the west coast of British Columbia. During the expedition, the Exploration Vessel Nautilus will deploy, recover, and maintain seafloor instruments using remotely operated vehicles and conduct extensive seafloor mapping exploration.

Rodriguez, who has a background in chemistry and worked as a research scientist for several years before transitioning to education, will discuss the research to be conducted on the expedition. This includes monitoring underwater cables that observe earthquakes, ocean noise, seafloor tectonics, and other phenomena.

He will also share videos of fascinating organisms, the technology used in deep-sea exploration, and the team’s hopes for new discoveries during the expedition. In his role at JPL, Rodriguez performs research in young stellar object formation via IR astronomy and flies on NASA’s SOFIA, while also writing curriculum and leading professional development for K-12 educators.

Rodriguez has conducted hundreds of workshops for students and teachers around the country, organized the televised programming for the Perseverance landing in 2021, and published dozens of classroom activities for educators. During the expedition, he will engage with learners across Southern California through live broadcasts on NautilusLive.org, a 24-hour live-streaming platform that connects explorers on the ship with audiences on shore.

Born in Venezuela, Rodriguez immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 12 years old and holds a Master’s degree in Education and Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Philosophy. 

The event is open to the public with a reservation required; the charge, which includes lunch, is $40 per person. 

The Pasadena Rotary Club’s weekly meeting will be held at the University Club of Pasadena, at 175 N. Oakland Ave., with an RSVP deadline of 4 p.m. on Monday, June 3. To RSVP, email office@pasadenarotary.com or call (626) 683-8243.

The meeting will also be accessible via Zoom. To log in, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86515101523?pwd=dHhNZnV5c2ZqbzNQbWthbDNhYTladz09 before 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The meeting ID is 865 1510 1523, and the passcode is 667356. 

For more information, visit https://www.pasadenarotary.com/

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