Margaret Race is concerned with protecting the planets. Actually, protecting all the planets: but especially Earth and Mars. Her work focuses on the scientific, technical, legal and societal issues of ensuring that missions to the Red Planet and other solar system bodies do not either inadvertently bring terrestrial microbes along, which would complicate our search for indigenous extraterrestrial life, or return any microbes to Earth. Recently, she’s done a research study on the environmental impact reviews and public communication associated with high-containment biosafety labs – the type that will eventually be used for the quarantine of returned samples from Mars.
Her interest in extraterrestrial organisms is linked closely to her long term ecological research on exotic and invasive species. She’s also actively involved in education and public outreach about astrobiology. Since her early work with the Environmental Protection Agency as a Public Information Specialist, and her tenure at San Francisco television station KQED, Margaret has had a strong interest in the communication of science via the mass media. She especially likes to work with journalists and educators as they develop materials about complex, controversial issues in space exploration and environmental protection. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her work ensures that our spacecraft won’t be.