Inspirational Mars researcher wins Vice-Chancellor Award

  • Date

    Fri 24 Nov 23

Ansuhree Srivastava standing in the desert whole working on the Mars simulation mission

An Essex alumni involved in ground-breaking research into life on Mars will be recognised for her outstanding success during the University’s very first graduation ceremony in India.

Anushree Srivastava, who completed a Masters in Biotechnology at Essex, will receive a Vice-Chancellor Award during the historic event.

She becomes the fourth Essex graduate or postgraduate from India to be awarded the prize, which aims to celebrate the achievements and impact our alumni are having on the world.

After completing her Masters in 2016, Anushree went on to take part in a long-term mission to simulate the future human exploration of Mars at the Mars Desert Research Station, in the Utah desert, and at Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, in Canada.

Anushree spent many strenuous hours doing multiple Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) wearing a spacesuit weighing around 12kg.

Her time on the mission was covered in author Dan Richards’s book, Outpost: A journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth.

Anushree has participated in other projects relating to Mars analogue research, as well as working with the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, USA, under the mentorship of renowned planetary scientist, Dr. Paul Mahaffy.

There, she helped the Mars Curiosity rover team in the detection of organics on Mars. This research was later published in a Nature Astronomy paper that she co-authored.

Anushree has completed a PhD in Astrobiology with the prestigious AstrobiologyOU Group at The Open University, UK, working with Professor Karen Olsson-Francis, Dr Victoria Pearson, and Essex's very own Professor Terry McGenity.

As part of her PhD research, she discovered three new species of microorganisms from Mars-like salt samples.

Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at renowned Carnegie Institute for Science, in Washington DC, where she is working with Dr Andrew Steele on NASA’s Mars 2020 mission as an Astrobiologist.

Anushree said: "I am extremely grateful and happy to accept this award. Studying at Essex was a big move for me, especially as a girl coming from India, from a totally unconventional background dreaming to study astrobiology, but the University has been instrumental in my journey, and I will always look back fondly on my time there.

“I cannot wait to reunite with my fellow alumni and graduates from Essex, and it will be such a special day to have my family there to see me receive the award.”

Essex Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, said: “Anushree is a hugely inspirational figure among our alumni community and many of our past and present students at Essex can relate to her incredible journey.

“From working with NASA to helping experts detect organics on Mars; what she has achieved since graduating is truly extraordinary.

“I have no doubt that Anushree’s natural curiosity – a characteristic that we so proudly celebrate here at Essex - will see her strive for even greater success and I look forward to hearing more about her fascinating work at our graduation ceremony in India.”

Other Vice-Chancellor Award winners that will be presented during the graduation ceremony include Sanchita Ain, Ankit Mehrotra and Manish Michael.

The graduation ceremony takes place at the Andaz Delhi hotel on Sunday, 18 February, 2024.

More information including how you can book tickets is available via our dedicated events page.