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 Daily Reports:




January 7, 2012 January 14, 2012

April AndreasCommander
Nancy Ray-MitchellExecutive Officer
Elizabeth MitchellCrew Biologist
Elaine FagnerCrew Geologist
Larry BentonCrew Chemist
Walter Vernon KramerCrew Astronomer 

April Andreas is building an engineering program at McLennan Community College. She attended Southern Methodist University, earning a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics, and then attended the University of Arizona, completing a Ph.D. in Systems and Industrial Engineering.

A member of the Mars Society Steering Committee, April has served the space advocacy community since she and her husband Derek co-founded the Dallas Chapter of the Mars Society in 2003. She has traveled to Washington, D.C. numerous times to lobby on behalf of human space exploration and has served as a consultant for the Mars Foundation and 4Frontiers Corporation. She has also taught a course on Mars Colonization to gifted teens during a summer program at SMU, the results of which were published in TEMPO, a quarterly journal for gifted education.

April is the mission commander and will be planning the general agenda for the crew, which is more structured than a typical rotation. The goal of this particular crew is to pilot a Mars 101 course where first- and second-year college students can get a taste of analog research, while still following a formal curriculum.

Nancy Ray-Mitchell is a management professor at McLennan Community College. She received her BJ in Journalism from the University of Texas and her MS in Business Training and Development from Oklahoma State University. She has taught management, leadership, teams, human resource management, and management interns for 24 years at MCC.

Nancy has studied the use of self-directed teams in the industrial setting, as well as in the classroom setting. She organized her teams classes and human resource management classes into self-directed teams and designed the classes to operate as if in a corporate environment. She designed her leadership class for the students to exhibit their own leadership skills in the choices of all of their assignments.

Prior to the mission, she will document the managerial functions needed in order to execute each stage for a successful mission. During her mission in MDRS, she will serve as the Executive Officer of Crew 110B. She will document the Team Operating Agreement of Crew 110B in order to use feedforward control to make recommendations for future agreements. She will distinguish between management and leadership skills needed by the crew. She will also serve as the mission photographer.

Liz Mitchell is an assistant professor of biology at McLennan Community College. She received her BS in biology and MS in biotechnology from Texas A&M University. This is her first semester teaching full-time at MCC. She teaches microbiology, genetics, majors biology, and non-majors biology. She will co-teach a brand-new student research class in marine biology with Professor Stephanie Randell in the spring. This class will travel to Honduras for the research portion of the class. Liz is also currently working to help get biotechnology courses off the ground at MCC.

Prior to coming to MCC, Liz worked in Boston in the biotechnology industry. She worked for the microarray division of the Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics and for Immunetics, Inc. At Immunetics, she was a member of a research and development team that designed a new way to detect bacterial contamination in platelet transfusion products.

Liz will be serving as the exobiologist for this mission. She will lead the crew in missions that study the microbiological flora in the soil and on the rocks. Other missions may include monitoring the bacteria in the water supplies and inside the Hab.

Elaine Alexander Fagner is a registered Texas Professional Geoscientist who has taught at McLennan Community College for over eight years. She teaches geology, earth science, and environmental science. Six years ago, Elaine developed and implementedMCC"s first Science Field Course that travels for three weeks each May to the Southwest to study earth science. This year will mark the fifth field course group to embark on this incredible educational adventure.

Prior to coming to MCC, Elaine worked for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Small Business & Local Government Program. She assisted small businesses and local governments with confidential environmental compliance assistance for air, water, and waste regulations. Prior to her employment with TCEQ, Elaine worked for the Brazos River Authority in the Watershed Protection Program and Clean Rivers Program. Elaine worked in water quality projects at the BRA in the North Bosque River Watershed, Leon River Watershed, Lampasas River Watershed, and multiple other river and lake bodies within the Brazos River Basin.

Elaine has done extensive geologic field study in Hawaii including analysis of coastal processes and volcanic systems. The picture posted with this bio is from Kauai on a carbonate beach she has done work on. Two summers ago, Elaine participated in two separate dinosaur digs. She spent a week in Montana digging for Late Cretaceous dinosaurs in the Judith River Formation and then spent another week digging for Late Triassic vertebrates and dinosaurs in the Redonda Formation of New Mexico. Elaine incorporated the New Mexico dig component into her field course and now partners withMesalands Community College to offer this amazing experience to her students. The next field course will occur from May 14 - May 31, 2012.

Finally, Elaine works for Weight Watchers, International as a leader. Nine years ago, she lost 80 pounds and decided to work for the company that helped change her life. She has been awarded the Diamond Leader award on three separate occasions. This award is given to the top performing leaders across the nation who rank in the top 25% for the company. She currently leads five meetings a week a the Waco Weight Watchers store.

Larry Benton is an Instructor of Chemistry at McLennan Community College.He has worked for 23 years in industry. His experience includes working in the aerospace,pharmaceutical, plastics industries.

Larry is the inventor on three patents and has coauthoredseveral peer-reviewed papers. Larry holds a Master of Science degree from Baylor University.

Walter Vernon Kramer “Since I have already worked and explored in many countries around planet Earth, I am ready to work and explore other planets – like Mars.”

Vernon, a former Eagle Scout, graduated with a BS in Mining Engineering from Texas Western College; then obtained a MS in Geology from the University of Texas – El Paso (same school – different name) and earned his private pilot’s license. Later he did post MS studies at New Mexico Institute Mining and Technology.

He has worked on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica, both as an engineer and geologist – including managerial positions.

Later he obtained his Elementary School Teacher Certification and taught elementary school for four years. He also became a Microsoft Certified Professional.

In 2009, he was named Commander for the FMARS 2009 Mission on Devon Island, Canada and is a member of the Mars Society.

Currently he is “retired” but is teaching full time as an Asst. Geology Professor at Del Mar College.

Vernon will be the Chief Engineer/Astronomer on the Team Texas MDRS 110B Mission in 2012.