Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall/Winter 2005

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Table of Contents:


SG interns gain skills in private industry

Tethers interns on the job

Tethers interns (left to right) Scott Romney, Adam Hendricksen, Jason Buller and William Russellon the job last summer.

The pressure was on as Adam Hendricksen adjusted his robotics project at Tethers Unlimited Inc. last summer. In a week, the robot needed to be rolling up and down hills and shooting projectiles for a demonstration tape for the company's federal funders.

But that didn't faze Adam, a UW aeronautics and astronautics engineering major. "It's a fun project," he says. "I enjoyed working on it."

This year Washington NASA Space Grant, working in conjunction with the UW's Research Institute for Space Exploration (RISE), established a program of private industry internships for students. In June, the first four interns were placed with Tethers, a Bothell-based research and development company specializing in advanced space technologies and scientific computing solutions.

Tethers Vice-President Nestor Voronka says the interns were entrusted with real responsibilities. "If they didn't get the job done," he says, "we didn't make a launch schedule."

It's a measure of the program's success that Scott Romney, a physics and computer science major from Western Washington University, and William Russell, a UW electrical engineering major, are continuing to work with the company as part-time employees. Adam was also offered a position, but had to withdraw due to a heavy class schedule. (Jason Buller, also a UW student, is now working full time on his master's in aeronautics and astronautics.)

Voronka says the company looks forward to next year's crop of student interns. The private industry internships are open to students from Space Grant member colleges and universities. Applications are posted online in the spring.


SG scholar receives Rhodes Scholarship

Eliana Hechter

Eliana Hechter

Space Grant scholar Eliana Hechter has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for graduate study at the University of Oxford.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," says Eliana, who entered the University of Washington at age 14. "I'm stunned to tell you the truth."

Eliana, a recipient of the national 2004 Goldwater Scholarship, declined a Marshall scholarship to attend Oxford where she plans to complete her doctorate in mathematics.

A multi-talented student, Eliana has made the most of her undergraduate experience. She traveled to Rome to study creative writing and danced with the UW dance program while still finding time to play ultimate Frisbee.

As an undergraduate researcher, she apprenticed at Friday Harbor Laboratories, studying gene network dynamics and cellular behavior from the angles of mathematics, modeling, and developmental biology. She also taught a math enrichment class at TOPS, a Seattle K-8 alternative school.

Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902. Winners are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.


Applications for 2006 scholarships now available

Scholarship applications for incoming freshmen and community college transfer students planning to attend the University of Washington are now available at the Space Grant Web site.

Students who plan to study science, technology, engineering or math are eligible to apply for Space Grant scholarships. Space Grant awards approximately 20-25 UW scholarships annually. The awards are based on academic achievement, standardized test scores, personal essays, recommendations and future academic promise.

Scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000 and are awarded for one year at a time. Recipients may apply for renewal, depending on availability of funding, and provided that they maintain program requirements for their majors and a satisfactory GPA. Renewal applications can be made for up to four years for incoming freshmen; two years for transfer students.

The scholarship program is designed to create a small college atmosphere within the larger university. Along with financial support, scholars receive help with registration, campus resources, and academic advising, can participate in the Space Grant mentor program and have the option of living on the Space Grant dormitory floor.

In the past, Space Grant scholars have won Goldwater scholarships and become regional Marshall and Rhodes Scholar finalists (and, as of last month, Rhodes winners). Many continue on for their doctoral degrees.

The deadline for incoming freshman to apply is Jan. 13, 2006. Community college transfer students have until March 24, 2006.


NASA JPL puts student interns to the test

Hiller at Mud Lake

2005 JPL intern Jonathan Hiller at Mud Lake where he was conducting tests to calibrate instruments on the Terra satellite platform.

Summer internships at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were a hot ticket for four Washington undergraduates last summer.

The internships, supported through Washington NASA Space Grant, provide qualified undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to participate directly in cutting-edge research at the agency's lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system.

Internships were awarded to Eric Tollerud, a physics and mathematics major at University of Puget Sound, and to Jonathan Hiller, a mechanical engineering major, Jeremy Morales, a physics major, and Sara Van Nortwick, a bioengineering major, all from the University of Washington.

Applications for the 2006 internships are due January 20.


NASA Academy pair tackle robotics and astrobiology challenges

Chris Glein

Chris Glein working on his astrobiology project at NASA Glenn Research Center.

For Space Grant scholars Carie Frantz and Christopher Glein, participating in NASA Academy and applying their research skills at an actual NASA Research Center was the chance of a lifetime.

"We had a unique opportunity to meet and interact with the movers and shakers of the space industry on a very personal level," Carie said. "Many of these people are largely inaccessible to most people—including others in the space program."

NASA Academy is a 10-week program designed to build leadership skills and provide research experience while giving college students a glimpse of the aerospace industry as a whole. The students' research time is divided between individual and team projects. Participants not only work with Academy teams at their own NASA Centers, but also visit other NASA facilities.

At the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Chris—a senior majoring in chemistry—worked directly with NASA researcher Al Hepp of the Photovoltaics and Space Environment Branch on a chemical approach to astrobiology questions including possible connections between metal sulfides and the origin of life on Earth.

Chris also worked with a student team producing a 25-minute television program, tentatively titled "Agents for Change." The program focused on the projected manned-mission to Mars in 2020 and culminated with an MTV "Real World"-type segment simulating the possible problems such a mission would involve.

Chris Glein

Carie Frantz testing her project at the University of Maryland's Nautical Buoyancy Laboratory.

Carie—a junior majoring in bioengineering—was assigned to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Working with Brian Roberts of the University of Maryland's Space Systems Laboratory, she developed improvements to a robot designed to collect biological samples from the hydrothermal vents underneath the Arctic ice cap. Among other things, the robot must consume a minimal amount of power, collect the specified sample, know when a sample has been obtained, and properly store the samples safely for the return to the icebreaker ship.

"As part of my research, I even got to visit the lab of a scientist who has been able to keep hydrothermal vent animals alive at atmospheric pressure in refrigerated tanks," she said.

Working on a NASA Academy team, she also developed a proposal for a Scout mission to Mars whose primary objective would be to map the location and abundance of methane observed earlier. Mars Scout-class missions are intended to inexpensively investigate the most pressing scientific objectives on Mars.


NSCC adds astrobiology class

This fall, astronomy instructor Tracy Furutani teamed up with microbiology instructor Suzanne Schlador to offer North Seattle Community College's first astrobiology course.

The 10-credit course, supported by Space Grant, drew 22 students based mostly on word of mouth. Furutani says astrobiology is an inherently interesting topic that gets at our biggest questions as human beings.

"In a survey done last year, people around the world were asked: What's the biggest question you can think of?" he says. "The top answer was, why are we here? The next was, are we (meaning humankind) alone?"

The course centers on what life forms might be found "out there" and places in our solar system that might have conditions favorable for life such as Mars or Europa. It also includes studying life forms here at home that live in extreme environments such as deep oceans and hot springs. The students attend guest lectures, perform experiments and seminar on published astrobiological papers.

Because UW is among the first universities to offer upper division astrobiology courses, interested students can even take their studies further when they transfer, he says.


SCCC awards four SG scholarships

2007-08 SCCC scholars

SCCC scholars (left to right) Elianna (Freya) Scott-Thoennes, Seth Gordon, Kseinya Sergeyevna Deryckx, and Juan Francisco Gomez Gamino.

As the son of Mexican campesinos, Space Grant scholarship recipient Juan Francisco Gomez Gamino faced hurdles of language, geography and poverty in his dream of receiving a college education.

His father died when he was young. His mother, who worked as a maid and never had an opportunity to go to school, urged her two children to aim high.

Today, Juan is part of Seattle Central Community College's microgravity team which is working with UW researchers to find a way to successfully remove bubbles from heating elements so liquids can be prevented from freezing in space. The team is slated to fly aboard a NASA reduced gravity flight next spring.

In addition to his classwork and research commitments, Juan works 25 hours a week in a community bank and volunteers with Mano a Mano and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. "Working with student-based groups that promote education among Chicanos enriches me as a learner and helps me to give back to the community which has nurtured me," he says.

He plans to transfer to the University of Washington's computer engineering department with the ultimate goal of researching and developing hardware.

This year, four SCCC students received $2,000 Space Grant scholarships.

Seth Gordon originally planned to major in English, but his experience as primary author of the microgravity team's winning proposal—and his first physics class—set him on a new career path. He is now looking forward to a full year of engineering, chemistry and biology classes. His long-term goal is to complete a doctorate in physics.

This is Eliana (Freya) Scott-Thoennes's second year as a Space Grant scholar. The mother of six, she is already a science educator, not only pursuing her own studies, but also home schooling her children. She plans to major in biotechnology and education at the University of Washington. Her goal is to become a science teacher.

Artist Kseinya Sergeyevna Deryckx's observations of the natural world, her passion for art and her fascination with the chemistry of different paints led her to a home in the sciences.

"I finally accepted that my mind was completely fascinated with molecular mystery in every living and nonliving organism," she says. Her goal now is to pursue a degree in genetics, molecular biology or bioengineering.


Lutz named WSTA's Teacher of the Year

Julie Lutz

Julie Lutz

Space Grant Acting Director Julie Lutz has been named Washington Science Teachers Association's 2005 Teacher of the Year for higher education.

"I feel so lucky to be involved in science, and I want to encourage others to become involved too," Lutz says.

A UW astronomy professor, she is also director of the NASA Regional Educator Resource Center and of Space Science Network Northwest (S2N2), as well as UW's Manastash Ridge Observatory at Ellensburg.

She enjoys helping K-12 schools with curriculum reform and teaching professional development workshops. She often works with individual teachers to develop ideas for their classrooms.

"If you get teachers excited and confident about teaching science content, that's going to translate to their students," Lutz says.


SG community celebrates students' accomplishments

Christopher Petz

Making nanowires was the first step in SURP participant Christopher Petz's resistance reduction experiments.

The annual Space Grant Reception and Poster Session, held October 3 on the University of Washington campus, provided a rare chance to recognize the accomplishments of students throughout the Consortium's member universities and colleges.

Over 60 student researchers presented their work to faculty, family members and fellow students. They included participants in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) as well as those at undergraduate programs at the NASA research centers, and recipients of the Undergraduate Research Awards.

"Besides the basic research, which holds promise in itself, the grant permitted me to work with a student at a level not possible in the classroom," said Randolph Bentson, associate math professor at the University of Puget Sound and mentor to URA recipient Andy Zimmer.

Christopher Petz

UPS Associate Professor Randolph Bentson, URA recipient Andy Zimmer, Professor Bernard Bates and JPL intern Eric Tollerud (left to right) traveled to Seattle to participate in the reception.

This year URA recipients Anthony St. John and Miles Johnson traveled from Whitman College in Walla Walla to present posters on their research.

Miles, a biology major, spent the summer working with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla determining population and habitat requirements for the threatened margined sculpin. Anthony, a chemistry major, was studying the surface free energy of earth metals found as impurities in important minerals such as magnesite and dolomite.

"Frankly, there aren't as many opportunities for research at a small college," said Ulysses J. Sofia, chair of Whitman College's astronomy department. "Space Grant allows us to get more students involved with research, which is a key component of their education."

The reception also honors the incoming UW Space Grant scholars. Scholarships were awarded to 17 incoming freshmen and four community college transfers. Continuing scholarships were awarded to 50 students.


New advisor brings wealth of experience here and abroad

Tracy Maschman Morrissey

Tracy Maschman Morrissey

In September, Tracy Maschman Morrissey joined Washington NASA Space Grant as student program coordinator and advisor.

Tracy and her husband recently moved to Seattle from Dublin, Ireland, where they lived for three years. Her undergraduate degree is in psychology and education from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. She received her master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of Notre Dame and worked as a counselor in Dublin.

"At Notre Dame, I learned a great deal about student development," she said. "For me, my most important roles at Space Grant are connecting students to all the resources available through NASA and the UW, and helping them feel part of a greater community."

She met with students over coffee often during fall quarter and says she looks forward to linking students with research, scholarship and career opportunities, as well as preparing them for jobs and graduate school.

A competitive swimmer, Tracy also enjoys hiking, reading, seeing movies, running, and spending time with friends.


SG offices move back onto UW's main campus

On December 8, the Washington NASA Space Grant offices will move back into Johnson Hall on the University of Washington's main campus.

The new Space Grant offices will be located on the first floor of Johnson Hall, Room 141. The mail box, telephone and fax numbers will remain the same. Office hours will also remain the same, 9 a.m. -5 p.m.

The NASA Regional Educator Resource Center will continue to be housed in the Space Grant offices. Due to the move, the center will be closed through December and re-open to the public on January. 9.

The offices were relocated into Condon Hall for two years while the building underwent a $54 million renovation to address health, safety and code requirements.

Johnson Hall—located northwest of Drumheller Fountain—was built in 1930 and continues to look much the same from the outside. It houses the Departments of Biology and Earth & Space Sciences.


NASA Explorer Schools: One starts second year, another launches

governor, teacher and superintendent seated

Kareen Borders, a Key Peninsula Middle School teacher and team leader for their NASA Explorer School, shares a moment at the school year's opening assembly with Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (left) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson (right).

In October, Key Peninsula Middle School launched its second year as a NASA Explorer School with a star-studded assembly that included visits from Washington's governor, state officials, NASA researchers and former astronauts.

Gov. Christine Gregoire praised the students and teachers for the school's increase in its Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores last year, asking the audience to give the students a standing ovation.

She also urged students to stay in school and pursue their education as far as possible, cautioning that workers here no longer compete for jobs with their neighbors in Idaho or Oregon, but with workers around the globe.

Each spring, a three-year partnership is established between NASA and 50 new NASA Explorer School teams, consisting of teachers and education administrators from diverse communities across the country. Last spring, Toppenish Middle School in Eastern Washington became the state's second NASA Explorer School.

Amy Milne, a Toppenish teacher who was among the assembly guests, says her school was thrilled to be selected. Explorer Schools are eligible for up to $17,000 in grants for science education, plus support from education specialists from NASA Centers, professional development for teachers and family outreach aimed at creating exciting learning experiences in science, mathematics and technology for students. Washington Space Grant has also provided support for special programs such as high altitude balloon experiments.

The deadline to apply to become a NASA Explorer School is January 31 of each year.


WWU scholars prepare to train our next generation of scientists and engineers

In the last two months, the results of future science teacher Jennie Fabian's research have garnered her first place in the AVS Science and Technology Society's regional undergraduate poster competition and a superior rating from the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society's National Student Research Conference in Seattle.

Jennie's summer research experience is exactly what teachers need to effectively reach their students, says George Nelson, former astronaut and director of Western Washington University's Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) Program.

"It is important that future science teachers understand not only science content, but how science works," he says. "Being involved in doing real research is the most efficient path to this knowledge."

A growing body of research suggests that students, especially in the higher grades, benefit most from teachers with a strong knowledge of their subject matter. Yet, according to the National Science Board, 1999 statistics showed that 18 percent of math students in public high schools received instruction from teachers without at least a minor in math or a related field such as engineering or physics. The case was the same for about 31 percent of students in life science classes and 46 percent in physical science classes.

Since 2003, Space Grant has provided funding for SMATE scholarships, fellowships and research awards for projects such as Jennie's work with WWU Professor Steven Emory on the development of nanomaterials to make ultrasensitive analytical measurements.

The scholarships and fellowships often provide the push needed to convince a student to pursue a teaching career, especially those who have financial need and might not otherwise consider the field, Nelson says. "Space Grant scholarships are important tools in our efforts to recruit a diverse and excellent future teacher corps."


SG Scholars' Achievements

The Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society's National Student Research Conference in Seattle featured poster presentations by the following UW Space Grant scholars and SURP participants: Claire Muerdter (Examining p120 catenin Expression In Developing Daniorerio (Zebrafish) Embryos), Sam Burden (A Markov Model For Self-Assembling Robots), Jessica Smith (Folding of Protein Homologues), James Kuo (Improving the Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Chitosan-Alginate Composite Scaffolds), and Lauren Palmer (Metabolic Studies in Methylobacterium extorquens AM1).

In November, SG scholar Annamarie Askren and former SG scholar Jaime Hale represented the UW chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-UW) at the national conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Annamarie was asked to present a poster on work designing a multi-chord soft X-ray diagnostic for the fusion spheromak, HIT-SI, which has applications to nuclear propulsion. Both women are seniors majoring in aeronautics and astronautics engineering.


SPACE GRANT NEWS

NASA printing now available locally

Educators and NASA enthusiasts who download posters and other documents from the agency's Web site, can now have the large files printed at the closest OfficeMax store. OfficeMax Print and Document Services facilities are offering savings of up to 50 percent on the printing of NASA materials.

The materials will be professionally copied and collated for delivery, shipping or next-day pick up at the nearest OfficeMax store. To search for NASA educational materials, go to http://www.nasa.gov/education/materials

Stardust returns

On January 15, after more than seven years and billions of miles of travel through space, the Stardust spacecraft will finally return to Earth with some precious cargo—pristine samples of comet and interstellar dust. UW Professor Donald Brownlee is the mission's principal investigator.

For the latest updates, visit http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/