Photo of Students in Wind Cave


Students in the University of Northern Iowa's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry had the opportunity to take a one-of-a-kind research trip this spring.

Just before the COVID-19 travel restrictions were announced, a small group of undergraduate students, led by UNI chemistry and biochemistry professor Josh Sebree, returned from a research trip to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

During the trip, students conducted research on the biochemical composition of the cave, and collected samples of the cave water, which will be given to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California. NASA will use the cave water for experimentation in astrobiology, as the cave water is believed to be analogous in composition to what may exist in the subsurface oceans of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

The entire research trip was documented by digital media students from the Department of Communication and Media, and will be shared with the campus community and wider public at a later date. 

Sebree said he’s pleased he was able to lead the students in this once-in-a-lifetime research opportunity.

“The ability to pull together a team of highly motivated students and mentors from multiple disciplines across campus showcases the amazing talent pool at UNI,” Sebree said. “It was great to be able to work with so many amazing students to tackle some of the big questions about the Solar System and the origin of life.”

Photos, video and more information about the research trip will be released soon. Stay tuned for more information.