After NASA gig, RCHS grad heads to Japan

Jesse Palmer, who is working this summer at the NASA Ames research center in California and soon heads to Japan, poses with his mother, Jan Palmer.

Jesse Palmer is about to embark on a most amazing adventure that will take the college student to Japan.
Palmer has been a student at Stanford University in faraway California in the years since graduating from Rappahannock High School in 2007.

“Stanford was simply an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said.

Attending the prestigious university has opened up opportunities for him.

Palmer is interested in science and he took an elective in astrobiology and space exploration during the winter of his sophomore year.
That led to his becoming a teaching assistant for his professor, Dr. Lynn Rothschild. That in turn presented another opportunity that initially resulted in disappointment.

“For my human biology major, I have an internship requirement to fulfill,” Palmer explained. “I decided it would be best done over this summer. I also wanted to get experience working in a lab — actually do some science, not just learn about it.” So Palmer applied for an internship with the National Institute of Health. To his surprise, he didn’t get the job. “But Dr. Rothschild mentioned that she had a project I could work on for the summer with her at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.”

For the summer project, Palmer is assisting in adding and reorganizing content to the Stanford Astrobiology Course Web site (

“I am collaborating with another student to add a medicine portion to the Web site (showing different ways in which medicine is related to astrobiology and space exploration). This includes interviews with experts, general information, links to primary literature, student contributions, and a personal blog of my experience as an astrobiology intern.”

Beyond those responsibilities, Palmer is also fulfilling his original desire: “I am actually gaining experience in my professor’s lab at Ames.” Although the internship spans his summer break, Palmer will be taking time away from it — for a great cause.

Palmer will be traveling to Japan to help with a summer camp in Karuizawa. From July 15 through Aug. 2, young Japanese students will participate in a unique pilot program.

“Some graduates from the Stanford School of Education are collaborating with professionals in Japan to start an international boarding school there,” Palmer explained. “Basically, they want students and their parents to get an idea of how they want their school to run once it opens. I’ll be serving as both a teacher’s assistant and camp counselor, helping with a design thinking class and also teaching ultimate Frisbee.”

Since leaving the hallways of RCHS, Palmer has had many adventures in the West. The best news is that many more remain, including a yet-to-be-told story from much farther east.