From Seville Grove to the stars: Curtin Uni student to take up internship at NASA

NASA-bound Curtin University student Nicole Nevill. Picture: Jon Hewson
NASA-bound Curtin University student Nicole Nevill. Picture: Jon Hewson

FROM Seville Grove to the stars, local resident Nicole Nevill is getting ready to head off to NASA.

The Curtin University student, who is studying a PhD in Applied Geology, has been selected for a three-month internship at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

She will be heading there in June to research whether there is a potential link between interstellar organic compounds and the origin of life itself.

“I’m excited about the research. I’m going to get to study grains that hardly anyone else in the world has looked at because we haven’t had the technology to look at them until now,” Ms Nevill said.

Ms Nevill said she has been interested in the solar system since she was a young child.

“I’ve always been interested in space. When I was eight, I got a book called Earth and Space… I loved it, it was my favourite book,” she said.

After a rigorous application process to the Universities Space Research Association, with students around the world competing for placement, Ms Nevill was selected for the fully funded trip and internship.

“Not many students get the opportunity to spend three months working directly with top NASA researchers,” Professor Phil Bland, Ms Nevill’s PhD supervisor, said.

When she returns from the United States, Ms Nevill will continue her PhD studies.

“I look at the oldest materials in our solar system and study them to find their initial environmental conditions and every physical and chemical process to affect them from their birth to now. It’s essentially mapping the evolution of the universe without seeing it,” she said.

And as for where her journey through space will lead her?

“It would be very cool to work at a facility like NASA, that has the really nice samples and technology, because you’d have more freedom in what you could research,” Ms Nevill said.

“But as long as I’m researching I really don’t mind. I just love it.”