Dr. Catharine Conley is the NASA Planetary Protection Officer. Dr. Conley received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Cornell University in 1994, and obtained a postdoctoral fellow position at The Scripps Research Institute studying proteins involved in muscle contraction. In 1999 Conley became a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center. Her research focuses on the evolution of motility, particularly animal muscle. One of her experiments was on board during the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The experiment, the fourteenth Biological Research In Canisters (BRIC-14), survived re-entry and the nematode cultures were still alive. Some scientific data was recovered. In 2006, Conley was appointed as NASA's Planetary Protection Officer in their Planetary Protection Office at NASA HQ.