Dr. Macarena Parra started at NASA Ames in 2002 as a postdoctoral researcher studying the effects of microgravity on bone. She then worked as a Payload Scientist, supporting numerous experiments on the Space Shuttle and later the ISS. While she was a Payload Scientist for the Shuttle and ISS, she also took on the role of Project Scientist for GeneSat, the first Small Satellite to run an autonomous biological experiment on orbit. Since then, she has been Project Scientist or an advisor for all biological SmallSats developed at Ames. Dr. Parra also led the science and sample processing development portion of hardware for use on the ISS: the WetLab-2 system capable of purifying and analyzing RNA on orbit that was successfully demonstrated in 2016. She currently leads the Instrument and Engineering Technology branch at Ames consisting of engineers with various backgrounds that develop hardware and sensors for numerous life sciences and search for life projects.

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