Darian Dixon, who earned his undergraduate degree in geological sciences in 2015, plays a key role on NASA’s $3 billion Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars in February.
Dixon is Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z data management lead. His duties involve guiding the two Mastcam-Z cameras, which are part of the rover’s array of nearly two dozen cameras. They’re capturing panoramic stills to help scientists learn more about the planet’s atmosphere, landscape and soils. And he teamed with colleagues to quickly ensure Mastcam-Z footage of the inaugural Ingenuity helicopter flight was received back on Earth as soon as possible.
Dixon is passionate about inspiring other students to follow their dreams, especially students of color. He encourages them to pursue careers in the STEM-related fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“We’re exploring the final frontier. It’s something that fills our hearts with awe and wonder,” Dixon says. “I don’t think you can put a price on that. You just get to look up and be happy that you are part of something that is much bigger than humanity.”
For more about Dixon, check out this story
. (Note: Dixon’s speech has already been recorded. It is available under embargo upon request by contacting John Schumacher
. The clip cannot be used until after 10 a.m. May 16.)
At the May 16 commencement, UWM will award honorary degrees to:
Robert W. Henderson, curator emeritus of herpetology at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The College of Letters & Science will grant him an honorary Doctor of Herpetology degree.
David J. Lubar, president and CEO of Lubar & Co. The Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business will grant him an honorary Doctor of Business degree.
Jere D. McGaffey, retired partner of Foley & Lardner. The College of Letters & Science will grant him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.