Center for New Directions

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak Keynote speaker

Keynote Speaker: Shannon Kobs Nawotniak

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak is a volcanologist in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University. Her research specialties include explosive eruption columns, pattern recognition in volcanic processes, and volcanic analogs for study of Mars and the Moon. She uses field work, laboratory analyses, and supercomputer programming to carry out her work. She holds a BS in Geology from Michigan Technological University and a PhD in Geology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City before coming to Idaho State University.

Shannon is currently the Deputy Primary Investigator representing science for BASALT, a NASA research project using lava flows in Idaho and Hawaii to re-envision the search for life on Mars. For that project, she is responsible for working with geologists and biologists to focus science research around microbial habitats that exist within rocks and coordinating with engineers and roboticists to figure out how to translate Earth-bound research to other worlds. She also gets to pretend to be an astronaut during simulated missions to Mars.

Shannon has been involved with geology-related outreach and education since she was a child, representing her hometown Gem and Mineral Club in classrooms to teach simple concepts about rocks. Since coming to ISU, Shannon has set off innumerable scaled eruptions for area students at the elementary though college levels and connected with classrooms further afield via Skype.

Shannon has played with volcanoes on four continents and been caught in ash or gas plumes multiple times. She declares herself an aficionado of things that go “Boom,” and is equally likely to be caught in high heels or hiking boots. In her down-time, Shannon loves to read, run with her dog, hike, and travel.


921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209