the summer of 2009, Leech Lake Tribal College student Marie Kingbird-Lowry
participated in NASA research to route a high-voltage power line
through the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in north-central Minnesota.
Kingbird-Lowry said the experience with NASA has given her a desire
to be a role model, leading the way for other Native American young
people to get involved in NASA projects.
which NASA student opportunity project did you participate, and
how did you get involved in it?
started out with the 2009 NASA/American Indian Higher Education
Consortium Summer Research Experience (which is part of NASA's
Tribal Colleges and Universities Project) in Bismarck, N.D. My
mathematics instructor, Kelly Nipp, found this opportunity and
gave me the paperwork to apply.
the research you conducted through your NASA involvement, and why
this topic is important.
partner, the late LeAnn Dick, and I were given the research topic
of the potential impacts of the kilovolt transmission line on
cultural resources within the Leech Lake Reservation. The research
we did was used by an engineering company to help choose a route
for a high-voltage power line that would be going through the
Leech Lake Reservation. Many were opposed to this power line going
through our reservation because of the damage it could cause to
the forest and any historical sites that lie within. I feel that
it is important to do this work so that the power company can
supply electricity to the outlying areas of the reservation without
causing any more damage to these resources.
has been the most exciting part of your research?
most exciting part of being able to work with the NASA program
is the opportunities that have come my way. I am able to meet
some very influential people that have become my friends such
as Dr. Nancy Maynard, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
and I have learned the ins and outs of GIS (Geographical Information
Systems) to map out areas of interest for our projects that we
is your educational background and what are your future educational
recently graduated from Leech Lake Tribal College with an associate
degree in liberal education with science, technology, engineering
and mathematics emphasis. I plan on going to Bemidji State University
to study geology.
inspired you to choose the education/career field you did?
starting the Summer Research Experience, I was undecided on my
direction of interest when it came to my education. Being able
to work with the scientists and instructors of the NASA/AIHEC
Summer Research Experience has heightened my interest in the study
of geology. My four children -- Adriana 13 years, Alexander 8
years and my 6-year-old twins Robert Jr. and ReAnn -- have inspired
me to do well in my education, to show that no matter where youre
at in life you can accomplish anything, and none of this would
be done without the help of my husband, Robert Lowry Sr.
do you think will be the most important things youll take
away from your involvement with NASA?
feel that being a Native American woman I can become a role model
to our Native American youth and other minorities to become acquainted
with the NASA program. I hope to become a link between NASA and
the Native American community.
do you think your NASA involvement will affect your future?
believe that with the subjects that I have learned while in the
Summer Research Experience will help with becoming a geologist,
and having this experience will help me to bring others into this
are your future career plans?
plan on going as far as I can in my education to come back to
my community and teach others.
advice would you have for other students who are interested in becoming
involved with, or working for, NASA?
would say that this is a very valuable experience for anyone to
have, and I strongly encourage everyone to just take that first
step. There are so many different aspects of the program, from
being able to learn about spatial data and GIS, to finding lifelong
friendships among the other interns.