Drew Palmer is an associate professor at the Florida Institute of Technology in the departments of: (i) Ocean Engineering and Marine Science, (ii) Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and (iii) Biomedical Engineering and Science. His areas of interest include ‘social’ microbial behaviors such as quorum sensing, plant-microbial interactions, and the development of sustainable space agriculture in support of missions to Mars or the moon. He is particularly interested in the development of regolith based agricultural systems in support of off-world settlements and collaborated with Kraft-Heinz to produce regolith grown tomatoes for the limited edition ‘Heinz Mars’ ketchup. With collaborators, he is currently working to develop microbial approaches to eliminate perchlorates from Martian regolith. On this expedition he will be looking for novel metabolites, microbial biosignatures, undiscovered extremophiles, and the potential for new advances in biotechnology.

He is a member of the American Society Plant Biology, American Society of Microbiology, and American Chemical Society. Drew earned his B.S. in Biochemistry at Florida State University and his PhD in Chemistry at Emory University. He was awarded an NIH postdoctoral fellowship while working in the chemistry department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.