Student Advising / Mentoring

Student research: I am a research advisor for typically ~5-10 students per year.  In my team I mentor students from LA-area community colleges and public universities as well as out of state and international institutions. In collaboration with university professors, I supervise thesis research and serve on thesis committees. My undergraduate and graduate students publish papers in scientific journals and present at national and international conferences. I encourage and support the students that I work with to pursue careers in academia, industry, government labs, teaching, communication / outreach, or wherever their interests may take them. 


Typically I fill summer internship positions in the fall; spots are limited and it is fine to contact me more than a year in advance. I also welcome interns in fall and spring who work 20-40 hours/week while going to school. Sometimes I have funding for a student to work on one of my funded projects; sometimes students have their own funding from a fellowship or their university and that can enable them to work on a more independent project. Note: it is not generally desired for students to do very short internships (< 10 weeks) since that is not enough time to complete a project; so when contacting me keep in mind that I would require at least a few months internship duration (preferably much more) for this to be mutually beneficial.


If interested in student research positions: read and follow the Origins and Habitability Lab's intern instructions and the tips below, then email me describing your interest!


Tips for emailing me for research opportunities: 

  • Introduce yourself, tell me where you are a student at, and attach your current CV
  • Describe why you want to work with me and the Origins and Habitability Lab in particular.
  • Describe which of my projects on this website interest you and why. Because, all intern projects have to relate to work I have funding for.
  • When describing your interest in a field of research (e.g. astrobiology), make sure this interest is demonstrated in your CV or email. (For example, have you attended seminars, read papers / books, participated in relevant activities?) 

Outreach Projects

Diversifying Student Pipelines in STEM: Environmental Pollution Reduction Inspired by Planetary Science (active)

Arezoo Khodayari (Cal State LA, PI); Laurie Barge (JPL, Co-I), Jessica Weber (JPL, Co-I), Winny Dong (Cal Poly Pomona, Co-I)



This is a two-year pilot project funded by a NASA SMD Bridge Program Seed Funding award. California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) is proposing to build a Bridge Program in partnership with NASA’s Jet

Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) dedicated to diversifying the NASA workforce while increasing Cal State LA’s research capacity by building sustainable partnerships with collaborators at JPL. This proposal is unique because it draws inspiration from the field of planetary science, which can be far from students' reality to tackle environmental pollution that is very real to them and their communities while creating student research opportunities and collaborations across institutions and providing training to research mentors regarding best practices in mentoring diverse students. The research experiences will enhance the confidence and motivation of students to pursue future careers in space-relevant STEM fields. The program will 1) leverage lessons learned from PI Khodayari and JPL Co-I Barge's previously funded programs to create a pilot program that provides independent research experiences integrated with project-oriented training and professional development to foster the exchange of intellectual and human resources pertaining to NASA-related research; 2) expand Cal State LA research and education capacity in areas of STEM; 3) increase collaborative research projects between faculty members at Cal State LA, CPP and JPL scientists; 4) inspire historically under-represented students to participate in NASA research and to pursue STEM degrees; and 5) create a plan for a peer-to-peer mentoring and a mentor training program that will be integrated into previously successful programs geared at increasing Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) student participation in STEM co-led by PI Khodayari and Co-I Barge.


See here for a recent media feature of this program.

Joint STEM Pathways Internship with Primarily Undergraduate Institutes (active)

Laurie Barge (JPL, PI), Jay Forsythe (College of Charleston, Co-I), Jessica Weber (JPL, Co-I) 


This is a one year project funded under JPL's Center for Academic Partnerships program. The objectives of this activity are to conduct a pilot round of a new type of "Joint STEM Pathways" internships aimed at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI's) such as College of Charleston (CoC), and to forge a new connection with CoC regarding their state of the art mass spectrometry facility. We will faciliate interfacing between the CoC Co-I and JPL intern mentors to help JPL PI's improve skills to support undergraduate-driven research programs.


Pathways in STEM (active)

Marianne Smith (Citrus College, PI), Laurie Barge (JPL, Co-PI), Paul Webster (Oak Crest, Co-PI)



Pathways in STEM is a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation awarded in 2019 to improve STEM education and broaden participation in STEM for community college students. This new program builds on the previous successes and lessons learned from Bridge to the Geosciences, and will offer an expanded program that operates through a collaborative, cross-sector partnership model that will provide students and faculty with year-round, extracurricular STEM-related experiences. Pathways in STEM will serve 300 students, who will participate in one of three themed cohorts: Geosciences; Engineering, Physics, Mathematics & Computer Sciences; and Biology and Chemistry. The program will include a science communication component, introduce students to subfields within their disciplines, and introduce students to internships and research opportunities. The project team has already created partnerships with corporate, non-profit, and government organizations that will participate in this project, including Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, City of Hope, CSU Fullerton, Packet, MillerCoors Brewing, The Explainables, and The Right Question Institute

Peer Mentoring for MSI Student Pathways in STEM (2023-2024)

Laurie Barge (JPL, Co-PI); Arezoo Khodayari (Cal State LA, Co-PI)


This is a project funded by the JPL Center for Academic Partnerships program. Our objectives are to 1) conduct a pilot round of a peer-to-peer mentoring program for MSI students; 2) create a plan for how this peer-to-peer mentoring program will be integrated into previously successful and currently funded programs geared at increasing MSI student participation in STEM. We will leverage our prior projects to formalize a peer to peer mentoring activity that can serve as an asset for future STEM students. We will test pilot programs to provide mentoring in two areas: 1) the community college to 4-year degree transfer, 2) the Bachelors or Master’s degree transfer to Ph.D program. The outcomes of this project will form the basis for future proposals to fund student experiences among the participating institutions.

Developing Student Pipelines in Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences (2022)


Laurie Barge (JPL, Co-PI); Arezoo Khodayari (Cal State LA, Co-PI)


This was a project funded through the JPL Minority Serving Institute program. In this project we proposed to develop a professional development plan for students in CSULA's College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST) who are interested in career opportunities related to planetary science, to gain connections and skills that would help them get future internship opportunities related to planetary missions and/or astrobiology. In order to spark career interest in planetary science among undergraduate environmental science & engineering majors, we have focused on developing ways to more strongly relate planetary science with environmental science and civil engineering (e.g., development of wastewater treatment technologies inspired by origin of life chemistry). This pilot project concluded in 2022, and led to us writing proposals to expand this into a peer to peer mentoring program that would link students at LA-area community colleges, with students in the CSU campuses, with students at University of California PhD granting institutions.

Bridge to the Geosciences (2015 - 2019)

Marianne Smith (Citrus College, PI), Laurie Barge (JPL, Co-PI), Valerie Sloan (UCAR, Co-PI)


Bridge to the Geosciences was a project funded by the National Science Foundation awarded in 2015, designed to provide students from Citrus College (a Hispanic-serving two-year public community college in LA county) an opportunity to explore the possibilities the geosciences hold for all STEM majors. Over the course of a year, each Bridge to the Geosciences cohort participated in four distinct experiences or "geomodules" organized around different subfields of the geosciences including the planetary, atmospheric, ocean and environmental sciences. In Year 1, the geomodules included a day at the Oak Crest Institute of Science, a day at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a weekend at the USC Wrigley Center on Catalina Island, and a 10-day "mini-internship" at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, CO. The program also included a focus on mentoring, education and career advice, community-building and networking. 


Presentation by Marianne Smith at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, January 2017: "Partnering for Diversity: A Year-Round Experiential Learning Project to Engage Community College Students in the Geosciences". Watch recording here


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