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Dante Lauretta was a University of Arizona/NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern in 1992. We knew we could expect great things from Dante. In 2000, after completing a Ph.D. from Washington University, and serving as a postdoc at Arizona State University, Dante was hired to the UA Department of Planetary Sciences/the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory--home department for Space Grant in Arizona. Dr. Lauretta's research interests focus on the origin and chemical evolution of the solar system. He studies the chemistry of the solar nebula, the cloud of gas and dust from which our solar system formed, by combining theoretical and experimental modeling of these environments with characterization of primitive meteorites. His main research interest is the formation and alteration of minerals in the solar nebula and on meteorite/parent asteroids. This work is important for identifying pristine solar nebula condensates in primitive meteorites, determining whether chemical reactions had enough time to reach equilibrium in the solar nebula, understanding the origin of complex organic molecules in the early solar system, and constraining the initial chemical inventories of the terrestrial planets. He is also currently working on the application of inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry to geologic studies. Currently, he is studying the extent of Hg isotopic fractionation in natural systems. This project represents a potentially new stable isotope system with applications in meteoritics, geology, biogeochemistry, and environmental studies. And to bring Dante's story to full-circle, he serves as a research mentor for our UA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Internship Program!
Germán Fuentes, a 1999-00 Space Grant intern for Dr. Lesser graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 2002. We were very pleased to receive a note from him this summer, to update us on his activities:
"I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity given to me 3 yrs. ago and offer a disposition of service to you and your program. Looking back, the Arizona Space Grant Consortium gave me a start in the space business and I am grateful for the early exposure.
My job at Boeing as an engineer focuses on the X-37 project. X-37 is an unmanned, experimental, space plane designed to test new technologies and progress towards NASA's vision of an Orbital Space Plane. I work with the avionics portion--specifically the communication systems. My day-to-day activities include writing test procedures for the communications system and then running the tests to see if our equipment is functioning properly. The work is exciting and I enjoy the Boeing atmosphere very much--Southern California isn't so bad either!"