Janelle Roach

Janelle Roach


Dr. Amy Williams


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences







Academic Awards

High Honors from Santa Fe College



Research Interests

I am interested in the search for organics on Mars as well as the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on the rate of ozone and fine particulate matter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hobbies and Interests

I enjoy participating in fossil digs, painting space themed canvases and sewing clothing and costumes.

Research Project

Organic Molecule Detection Using SAM wet chemistry on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover is exploring Gale crater on Mars, exploring the rock layers for evidence of habitable environments and searching for organic compounds using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. SAM analyzes organic molecules using pyrolysis gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS). One experiment on SAM can make organic molecules of astrobiologic interest detectable, whereas otherwise these molecules would not be detectable with py-GC-MS alone. This experiment uses the chemical tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH). After >10 years of preparation, the first SAM TMAH experiment on Mars was performed in September 2020 at the Mary Anning (MA) drill site in the Glen Torridon region of Gale crater. Preliminary analyses indicate that the TMAH experiment was successful, and that a variety of aromatic organic molecules were generated. Some of these molecules may be indigenous to Mars whereas others are internal to the SAM instrument. More detailed processing of the spectra from the instrument itself is required for confident identification of these molecules. This work is likely to substantially contribute to the novel detection of complex organic molecules on Mars, and increase our understanding of organics sources and degradation processes that control organic matter detection and preservation on the Red Planet.