Noel White Running Water was born and raised on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. She is a second generation college student and earned an Associate of Science degree in General Science: Applied Mathematics and Business Management from Blackfeet Community College. After successfully transferring to Salish Kootenai College (SKC), she became the first female to receive the Bachelors of Science degree from their Hydrology Program.
Her interest in research began when she was a student intern with SKC’s Computer Engineering Program in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) designing and constructing the Bison Sat, a satellite built to take aerial images of the earth’s surface for remotely sensed research.
After launching in October 2015, it was the first satellite put into orbit by a tribal college. “The mentors at SKC definitely strengthened my understanding of how to become a better scientist, to skillfully use technical instruments, and to conduct research” Noel said.
Over her schooling career at SKC she has participated in multiple NASA internships offered by SKC and through partner programs including: 1) Up-linking commands and analyzing data from the Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars in 2012 (a partnership with SKC and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California); 2) Precipitation data assimilation and analysis from the Global Precipitation Measurement Satellite (a partnership with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Green Belt, Maryland, the Tribal College and University (TCU), and SKC; 3) Studying the growth of culturally important plants on the Flathead Indian Reservation (a partnership with the Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), NASA, and SKC).
“All of the great opportunities I was able to be a part of while attending SKC provided a competitive edge and a drive to achieve my higher education goals. After going through some very difficult times and the various struggles of life, SKC believed in me, and I never gave up until I had my diploma in my hand!”
She is now pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Systems Ecology where her research is based on validating L4_C products from the Soil Moisture Active / Passive Measurement (SMAP) satellite over agricultural areas. This is being done with a Graduate Research Assistantship.