Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Spring/Summer 2005

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Table of Contents:

UW recognizes Space Grant's contributions

Justin Ricaurte explains his research

Space Grant scholar Justin Ricaurte, a freshman, explains his research work with Bioengineering Professor Michael Regnier at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Washington NASA Space Grant programs at the University of Washington have been selected to receive the 2005 Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence, the university's top award for advancing teaching and learning for undergraduates.

UW President Mark A. Emmert commended Space Grant's scholarship program for its ability to attract talented students to the university and the program's exceptional support and community-building after the students arrive. He also praised the program for providing money for faculty to develop new innovative courses.

Alumnus Peter Norgaard credits the program with helping him get his bearings as a freshman and opening doors to research opportunities both on campus and at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, even helping him draft a proposal to get weekend access to computing resources at Mary Gates Hall for his research. The program's strength is being small enough to know the individual students, said Norgaard, now working on his doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University.

As a high school senior, Carie Frantz wanted to major in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and was torn between UW and MIT. Space Grant Director Janice DeCosmo arranged for her to tour the UW department, sit in on a class and meet with faculty.

"During that day on campus, I discovered a research project that I found interesting and was offered a summer research position—that sealed my decision for me," said Frantz, now a senior majoring in biology.

"Witnessing first- and second-year students making slides and posters, asking each other what makes sense or what is interesting, and asking me what I present to scientific meetings demonstrated to me how remarkable this [research] experience is for undergraduates," said Martin Kushmerick, Space Grant summer research mentor and professor of radiology, physiology & biophysics, and bioengineering.

The Brotman Awards were established in 1998. As a Brotman winner, Space Grant will receive an award of $11,500 in unrestricted funds to further its undergraduate programs. The award was presented at a ceremony June 9.

SG scholars receive UW President's Medal

Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray

Imai Jen-LaPlante

Imai Jen-LaPlante

Graduating seniors Elizabeth Gray and Imai Jen-LaPlante have been named the University of Washington 2005 President's Medalists.

The President's Medals, conferred at commencement, recognize the two graduating seniors (one a transfer student) who have the most distinguished academic records. Both women are Space Grant scholars.

Elizabeth, biology major, also received a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship and will begin work on her master's degree in England this fall, studying cervical cancer. After that, she will be pursuing her doctoral studies in biomedical sciences at the University of California-San Francisco.

Imai, physics major, also received the Higgs/Osborn Prize from her department for exceptional ability in laboratory courses. This fall, she will begin work on her doctorate at the University of Chicago. During the summer, she will join their research group at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland to work on the ATLAS particle detector.

New Space Grant scholars plan to improve lives here and in space


Jennifer Forbes


Toby McLeod

For Jennifer Forbes, the path to becoming an engineer on the first manned flight to Mars led first to the U.S. Navy and now to the University of Washington. If Jennifer sees her future in the stars, Toby McLeod sees his under the sea in the field of oceanography.

Jennifer and Toby are only two of the 16 talented incoming freshmen that will join the ranks of Space Grant scholars attending the University of Washington this fall.

This year over 250 promising high school students applied for scholarships. The awards range in size from $1,000 to $5,000 annually. They can be renewed for up to four years contingent on NASA funding and students' meeting program requirements. In 2005, Space Grant will support a total of 72 new and returning scholars.

Jennifer, who plans to major in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, underwent training through the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Program and served as the training petty officer aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Fascinated by space travel since second grade, she looks forward to participating in undergraduate research then pursuing a graduate degree. She is especially interested in applications of nuclear power as a means of space propulsion.

Toby, a La Conner resident, has been an integral part of his school's Science Olympiad, Ocean Sciences and Knowledge Bowl teams. A member of the Samish Tribe, he was named one of Skagit Valley College's Champions of Diversity. Last year he organized a haunted house fund-raiser to aid a local family in need. Toby plans to use his education to increase his tribe's scientific resources to help the earth and the resources we take from it.

Matching funds for these scholarships are provided by the Office of Student Affairs and the Mary Gates, Sigurd Olsen and Irving R. and Louise Donnergaard endowments. Space Grant has also offered scholarships to four community college students transferring to the University of Washington.

Additional Space Grant scholarships are awarded at Washington State University, Western Washington University and other institutions around the state.

Alumni News: Where are they now?

Devin Kipp, an '03 alumnus, just graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a master's degree in aerospace engineering. He worked with the institute's Space Systems Design Laboratory planetary exploration group on Mars atmospheric entry vehicles. He begins work with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August.

Jessica Larson, who took top honors in a Space Grant-sponsored science writing competition in 1999, winning a week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., is now completing her UW degree in environmental science and resource management. Jessica credits Space Grant with fueling her desire to pursue a science career. "The week in Alabama really helped me see what I wanted to do and affirmed my passion for science (not to mention my interest in the UW)," she says. Jessica plans to pursue a master's degree in ecosystem sciences.

Alumni, share your news

Tell us what major events have happened in your life: a new job, marriage, children, retirement, advanced degrees, you name it.

Mail to: Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium, Box 351310, Seattle, WA 98195-1310, or e-mail nasa@u.washington.edu

SG Scholars' Achievements

Adam Przybilla of Seattle Central Community College; Brent Allen and Daniel Strother of Washington State University; Scott Moon, Greg Quetin and Angela Stickle, all of UW, are headed down to NASA JPL for summer internships.

Summer is a busy time for UW Space Grant scholars. Junior Mei Liu, a 2006 Goldwater Honorable Mention majoring in bioengineering and electrical engineering, heads to UC Santa Barbara for a biotech REU. Junior Katie Liu, a neurobiology and biochemistry major, will be working at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory in Massachusetts. Biology major Claire Muerdter, who spent last summer surveying dung beetles in Ecuador through the Howard Hughes Programs in Science, is working closer to home as a Seattle Audubon Society intern. Sam Burden, an electrical engineering major, received a robotics REU at the University of Pennsylvania. Nimisha Ghosh Roy, an earth and space sciences major, received a pre-service teaching internship at the Department of Energy in Richland. Astronomy and physics major Suzanne Hayward received an REU at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico. Elena Wagner, a biochemistry major, received an internship with Amgen. Paul Lang, a chemical engineering major, is interning with Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho. Will Pittman, a computer engineering major, will be studying at the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska högskolan) in Stockholm.

Graduation news: Adam Van Etten, an astronomy and physics major, is headed to Stanford University to study physics. Noah Giansiracusa will continue his math studies at Brown University. Computer science and engineering (CSE) major Diane Hu is headed to the University of California San Diego. Jennifer (Kathleen) Fletcher, a physics major, is staying at UW to pursue a graduate degree in atmospheric sciences. Aeronautical engineering major Amanda Horike has been hired by Andrews Space, a Seattle technology engineering company. Feiya Wang, a technical communications major, will go from technical writing intern to full-time employee at Expeditors International. CSE major Jonathan Su will focus on computer graphics while pursuing his doctorate at Stanford University. Brandon Ballinger, another CSE major, has been hired by Google as a software engineer. After a summer of informal research at the University of Stuttgart, Jonathan Hiller will start his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Cornell University, working with bio-inspired robotics. Annamarie Askren is interning at Blue Origin this summer before she heads to CalTech to pursue her master's in aerospace engineering.


Local schools take NSIP regional awards

Teacher Barney Peterson and her class at James Monroe Elementary in Everett captured their third title as first place regional winners in the NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP). The fourth graders won in the My Earth category for their study of native wetland plants.

Jimmy Zhang of Gig Harbor High School and his teacher Steve Curtiss took first place in the category Design a Lunar-based Mission to Mars and Beyond for their study of plate tectonics on Mars.

NSIP is a national competition to stimulate interest in math, science, technology and geography among students in kindergarten through grade 12. This year, more than 2,800 students competed in six categories.

Explorer students' experiments take off

This spring Key Peninsula Middle School teacher Cindy Knisely and her students Jessica Henderson and Ashley Torres traveled to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility to create experiment samples for flight on a future high altitude NASA scientific balloon mission. Only five schools were invited to participate in the event.

Their experiment looks at radiation on seeds. The students chose five varieties to fly aboard a NASA balloon. They will compare them to control seeds and those launched through the UW Access to Space class. The teacher and students Davin Osuna and Billy Cundiff will return to the facility in June to conduct a rocket experiment looking at the effect of G-forces on waterproof watches. Key Peninsula is the state's NASA Explorer School.