Jessica Burket rubbed shoulders with NASA scientists earlier this summer in a unique experience for the PhD candidate in biomedical sciences.

Ms. Burket was one of only 16 individuals chosen worldwide to attend NASA Space Radiation Summer School at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

The interdisciplinary, three-week program focused on various health issues related to space radiation — a critical obstacle in long-term space missions to Mars. Ms. Burket and her colleagues sat through more than 30 physics and biology-based lectures from distinguished NASA and space radiation researchers and conducted cell-based radiation experiments.

“Besides the knowledge that I gained from the summer school, this experience also promoted unique collaboration between biology and physics, which allowed me to build research relationships and friendships with scientists outside my field of study,” she says. “Most importantly, this program has inspired me to think about different ways to apply my PhD dissertation research in autism spectrum disorders to study central nervous system deficits emerging after radiation exposure.”