James “Nick” Benardini III, PhD
"Dr. J. Nick Benardini has conducted research in the field of in environmental microbiology studying extreme environments for the past 13 years. He has participated in both applied research and field studies in conducting molecular and traditional microbiological community analysis. He has actively participated in the implementation teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory, InSight 2016 and Mars 2020 Missions. Specially, he has experience in microbial sample collection (air, water, surface), concentration, molecular separation, nucleic acid based approaches (DNA extraction, PCR, whole genome amplification approaches for low biomass, and custom DNA-microarray), and protein based approaches (ESI-MS/MS). He has been instrumental in sampling the Mars 2020, InSight, Mars Science Laboratory, JUNO, Mars Exploration Rovers, International Space Station’s ground support loop (SSPF, KSC), and leading the sampling and laboratory support team for the Mars Science Laboratory. He has served as the lead for the InSight 2016 and Mars 2020 missions."