Meet Mickey Muscalli

INDS B.A.: Astrobiology and Instrumental Data

A young man with a light beard smiling in his office

Fall 2021 Capstone

My INDS Degree

The question that’s always excited my imagination is the one of our ultimate place in the universe–“are we alone?”–and specifically how the technology we employ can best help us solve that problem. But answering such a question should prove to be quite difficult, as it requires us to survey beyond our planet and out into the great vastness of space. Before majoring in INDS I was looking for a major which I felt represented what I wanted to do in life, one which would allow me to tackle fundamental questions in a robust way. INDS was the perfect choice, because it let me fully explore the interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology and the study of life on earth and beyond. To this end, the purpose of my Individualized Study degree plan is to aid in the search for extraterrestrial life through the role of a principal investigator: working to further the scientific research around organic detection techniques, and the methods used to process that data.

Degree Mentors

  • Vickie Williams, Education
  • Kevin Fulmer, Alex Brown Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Steven McAlpine, Individualized Study

Post Graduation Plans

After graduating in the spring, I plan to pursue a PhD in astrobiology through a graduate level program. Through this education, I’d love to get involved in origin of life research.

Courses In My INDS Degree

Understanding How and Why Life Exists in the Universe: In order to develop and utilize data gathering instrumentation to aid in the search for extraterrestrial life, I need to understand what I’m looking for. These courses focus on the scientific understanding necessary to explain how and why life could exist outside our planet. (CHEM 301, 443 / BIOL 303, 313, 477)

What Geological Surfaces Could Harbor Life, and Where Can We Find Them: In order to help narrow the search for organisms beyond earth, we must have an understanding of what surface/mineral compositions possess the necessary attributes to harbor life. Using this information, we can form a better idea of where in the universe to focus our search. (PHYS 106 / GES 111, 220, 381, 412)

The Internal Logic of our Instrumentation: When working with complex data-gathering instruments, an understanding of how best to interface with the machines and process the data they produce is valuable. These courses are focused on developing programming ability and an understanding of how to most effectively process the gathered data. (CMSC 201, 202, 203 / PHYS 220 / STAT 355 / BIOL 428)

Individualized Study: These classes help me develop my degree plan-step by step-from inception to completion. (INDS 330, 335, 399, 410, 480, 490)