Dr. Penelope Boston
Explore Mars, Inc. | Board of Advisors
Dr. Penelope Boston plunged into the wonders of exobiology at a very young age. She grew up travelling the world with parents who were travelling performers, frequently delves into deep caves to do research, has worked with Dr. Carl Sagan on a project and serves on several scientific advisory panels with Dr. Frank Drake, studies both Earth’s subsurface microbiology and the possibility of life in caves on Mars, can speak Klingon, and is a notable New Mexico Speleologist, Microbiologist, and Astrobiologist. A current professor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, author of over 150 publications, and co-founder of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute and organizer of multiple conferences, Dr. Boston has devoted her career to teaching and understanding overlapping scientific disciplines. Despite being told by many people that studying so many different subjects would be hurtful to her career opportunities, she studies everything that she loves and has developed a successful career for herself.
Dr. Boston’s childhood was not a traditional one. She was the only child of a theatrical family that travelled all over the world to perform. “I kind of grew up as a nomad,” she said. Dr. Boston’s education was dealt with in any way that it could be. She had the opportunity to attend schools all over the world including her parents’ home countries (United Kingdom and France), Italy, Sweden, Africa, Australia, Asia, and everywhere else her parents travelled. She was also tutored when one or the other of her parents was in a production that travelled for a long period of time. After finally settling in Florida, she grew tired of public school because she was used to travelling. Dr. Boston was offered the National Merit Scholarship after placing very highly on her SAT exam, but the award was put on hold after she stopped attending high school. She attended St. Petersburg Junior College for college-level classes for credit for a year while she decided what to do. To this day, she hasn’t focused on just one field. “I couldn’t decide, and ultimately, I never did. I just ended up sort of creating my own career” Dr. Boston states.
Dr. Boston tested into the Faculty Scholars Program at Florida Atlantic University. This program allowed her to skip some of the tedious introductory courses. Dr. Boston achieved such high scores on her ACT and SAT and the in-house testing for FAU that she tested into FAU at the junior level. She attended FAU as a biology major with a geology minor until she became ill in her final year and a half. Dr. Boston was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, a very aggressive form of hypothyroidism, and the warm, humid, tropical climate of Florida irritated her illness. She withdrew from FAU so that she could get her health together.
Dr. Boston eventually transferred to University of Colorado at Boulder, a much cooler and drier climate that would not aggravate her hypothyroidism. She acquired a job at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado. She also completed her remaining credit hours and added a minor in psychology. By the end of her undergraduate career, Dr. Boston had attained degrees in Microbiology, Geology, and Psychology, plus she had enough credit hours for a double degree in philosophy if she wanted it. “When you go to college at sixteen you have a lot of time, and I was in no hurry,” Dr. Boston said. Her National Merit Scholarship kicked in, and she also received a small portion of money for part of the tuition because of her illness. She had money of her own that she used to make sure that she could take more than the normal amount of credit hours and did not have to rush through school. Dr. Boston attended the University of Colorado, Boulder for her master’s and doctoral degrees while on an Advanced Studies Program Fellowship from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.