Early life and education
Renee was born in Rochester, New York and lived there until, when at age 13, her family moved to Redding, California, which is where she went to high school. She attended college in Berkeley, California and grad school in San Diego, California, so Renee consider herself to be a transplanted Californian.
In collegeshe majored in physics, with an emphasis on geophysics. She found planetary science fascinating and so she decided to apply to graduate school in geophysics. For a literature review project, Renee read about the controversial Nemesis theory which explains the observed periodicity in mass extinctions on Earth. These types of studies really motivated her desire to get into geophysics.
She was accepted to the geophysics program at the University of California, San Diego's (UCSD) Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). After a year of course work, during which she did a couple of research cruises related to ocean-bottom seismology, a professor in her department mentioned a project that involved analyzing seismic data from the Apollo Moon missions. She was immediately intrigued, and ultimately wrote my Ph.D. thesis centered on this topic. It is her work with the Apollo seismic data that led me to two post-docs: one with the French space agency, and one with the astrogeology team at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These positions provided her with the qualifications needed to work with NASA.