Expanding Frontiers Fall/Winter 2007
Expanding Frontiers is a publication of Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. To join our mailing list, please send us an e-mail with your request.
Table of Contents:
- Space Grant welcomes new director
- Greetings new colleagues...
- WWU helps scientists become teachers
- SG community celebrates students' accomplishments
- Industry internships: Making the work world real
- JPL internship lights a bright future for students
- SCCC awards eight Space Grant scholarships
- New student advisor brings fresh ideas
- SG team launches student rocket payloads
- Heritage intern presents research at AISES
- CC transfers now have two opportunities for SG scholarships
- Alumni News: Where are they now?
- SG Scholars' Achievements
- Space Grant News
Space Grant welcomes new director
Professor Robert Winglee, chair of the University of Washington's Department of Earth and Space Sciences, has been appointed director of Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium.
A space physicist and primary investigator on several NASA grants, he has been involved with Washington Space Grant as an associate director and a mentor to student researchers for more than a decade.
"Professor Winglee combines a detailed working knowledge of the Space Grant program with an exalted international reputation as a scientist, deep insights into agency and national space policy, and a passionate commitment to students and science education," said Werner Stuetzle, divisional dean of the UW College of Arts and Sciences.
"He is a skilled administrator who will provide critical leadership for the advancement of space science research and education in Washington state at all levels."
A self-described "space geek," Winglee received his doctorate in physics from the University of Sydney and was studying studying space environments around the planets even before joining the UW faculty in 1991. His work on the development of a plasma system for advanced spacecraft propulsion was recently highlighted on the Discovery Channel program, Mars Rising.
He is also the director of the Research Institute for Space Exploration (RISE), a UW-based institute that provides an interdisciplinary focus for the breadth of space science and engineering activities in the Northwest.
One of Washington Space Grant's great strengths has been its commitment to undergraduate research, Winglee said. A strong undergraduate research program will continue to be a top priority.
"That means strong recruitment of the best high school seniors from around the state, and increased student participation with research groups on campus, and with NASA and our industry affiliates," he said.
Another goal will be to bring additional industry affiliates into the WSGC and increase student opportunities for private industry internships.
Winglee replaces Janice DeCosmo, now associate dean for UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs. She remains with Space Grant as an associate director.
Erika Harnett, a research associate professor in the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences, also joins the program as associate director.
A researcher in the area of theoretical space plasma physics and comparative planetology, she has worked with Washington Space Grant in the past helping to develop Access to Space, a high-altitude balloon class for non-science majors at the UW and Heritage University.
She has also participated on Space Grant scholarship and internship review panels.
Greetings new colleagues...
How did it become 2008 already? It seems like just yesterday I became the director of the Washington Space Grant Consortium. Since becoming director, I have been getting to know the intricate workings of Space Grant, from NASA Headquarters, to our wonderful staff at University of Washington, our affiliates and most importantly, our students.
First and foremost, let me thank former Director Janice DeCosmo for her tremendous work over the years. I first met Janice when she interviewed to work at Space Grant in 1992 shortly after completing her doctorate. (I know this dates both of us; I'll let you guess who is older).
Under Janice's leadership, WSGC's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) was born, setting the bar for Space Grant Consortia nationally. By supporting the best and brightest of our state's youth, WSGC helped launch hundreds of professional careers. I am pleased that Janice will continue helping WSGC as an associate director, even with the demands of her work as associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
I would also like to thank Julie Lutz for her work as Space Grant's interim director, as well as her many years as associate director, and particularly for her efforts in K-12 teacher education.
WSGC serves students across the state, though we do not have enough affiliated programs to provide full coverage. I hope that we will be able to extend that coverage, while improving our scholarship recruiting and strengthening our undergraduate and graduate research programs.
I look forward to working with everyone, and hope that you will drop me — or the Space Grant staff — a line as we progress through the year.
— Robert Winglee, Director
WWU helps scientists become teachers
After earning his undergraduate degree in geology, Andrew Nelsen went to work for a natural resources consulting company.
Over the next five years, he also traveled abroad and worked on a fishing boat in Alaska for six months.
"During this time, I realized that I was searching for a job that neatly encapsulated my needs for altruism and adventure," he said. "I think teaching will be a good fit for this."
He is now enrolled in Western Washington University's Science, Mathematics and Technology Education [SMATE] Program.
SMATE encourages preservice teachers to gain hands-on reseach experience. Last summer, Andrew worked as a Space Grant research fellow, inventorying alpine plants in the Mount Baker area. Future researchers will be able to look at his data to see how and if the region's flora are changing in response to climatic fluctuations.
Andrew is in Spain this winter doing his student teaching.
Space Grant community celebrates students' accomplishments
For Mikaela Gomes, a NASA Robotics Academy internship last summer meant not only working on her own project, but also visiting the top robotics labs around the country.
"We were able to see iRobot and MIT in Boston, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, University of Maryland in College Park, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Space Center Houston," she said.
The University of Washington sophomore thinks her experience will be invaluable in choosing her major.
Mikaela and more than 70 other student researchers presented the results of their work at the annual Space Grant Reception and Poster Session, held on Sept. 29 on the UW campus. The event recognizes the accomplishments of students at all of the Consortium's member colleges and universities.
Attending were students and faculty from UW, Seattle University, North Seattle and Seattle Central Community Colleges. A slideshow offered guests a glimpse of the student researchers' summer work life and allowed viewers to learn more about their projects.
For students who could not attend the reception, the slideshow also offered public recognition of their work and a chance to share their experiences.
Derek Roberts, a Seattle University junior majoring in electrical engineering, spent his summer modeling algorithms for the Orion spacecraft solar arrays at NASA Glenn Research Center in Ohio.
Derek, one of four interns supported by NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, said that meeting the other interns was one of the highlights of his experience.
Fellow ESMD intern Kimberlee Shish agreed. "My favorite part of the summer was being around people who were so passionate about the projects they were working on," she said.
Kimberlee graduated from the UW last spring. She is now working on her master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics engineering at Stanford University.
The reception also honored 21 incoming UW Space Grant scholars. The Space Grant scholarship program receives support from the Louise and Irving R. Donnergaard Endowment, the Sigurd Olsen Endowment and the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.
Making the work world real for students
Joseph Blakely, a UW graduate student in aeronautics and astronautics engineering, says his experience as a Space Grant intern at Aerojet last summer was invaluable.
"My coursework and research projects supplied me with a solid engineering background," he said, "but it was not until this internship that I fully understood what real engineers in private industry do in their day-to-day work and what methods they use to solve real problems."
Blakely's UW department mates Davud Kasparov, James B. Pasko, Collin Peterson and Ryan Smith also interned at Aerojet.
Brendan Dallas, a mechanical engineering major from Washington State University, and Allan Matthews, a UW aeronautical and astronautical engineering major, were awarded internships with Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
Internships have advantages for employers too, said Chuck Cushing at Aerojet human resources.
"The internships help us get to know these students," he said. "In many cases we later bring them on full time."
Details are being finalized to also offer summer internships at the Institute for Systems Biology and at Korry Electronics.
Internships are open to juniors, seniors and graduate students in good academic standing attending any Consortium member college or university. Compensation varies.
JPL internship experience lights students' path to a bright future
The big question facing Kyle Hughes last summer: How do you communicate — from Mars?
Kyle, an aeronautical and astronautical engineering major at the University of Washington, was one of six Washington NASA Space Grant summer interns at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He worked on the conceptual design for a Mars lander, slated to launch in 2016.
"Mostly, I worked on the telecommunications system," he said. "This involved finding an adequate radio and antenna, working out a link budget for my system, and determining the available time windows for communication with the Mars Science Orbiter."
JPL internships were also awarded to UW physics major Alexander Mendez and UW electrical engineering majors William Biederman, YungChing (Frank) Chen and Jodi Shi. Alec Cattarin of Seattle University, astronomy and physics major, also received an internship.
"I've had several internships in industry," said William Biederman. "My experience at JPL was much more exciting and has had a large influence on my career goals."
SCCC awards eight Space Grant scholarships
Going from high school directly into the workforce gave Travis Stanley a chance to sort out his priorities.
This fall Travis received his second Space Grant scholarship at Seattle Central Community College. The first in his family to attend college, he plans to pursue a degree in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington.
Travis is one of eight SCCC students who received $2,700 Space Grant scholarships.
Jihad El-Saadoun credits his Space Grant scholarship with boosting his confidence and giving him time to contribute to the college community. An active member of the Student Ambassador Corps and the College Activity Board, he plans to pursue a double major in pharmacy and physics.
A fascination with how the brain functions spurred Sarah Marmon to plan a major in neurobiology. The first in her family to go to college, she is also active in Empowr, a student group that seeks to create cultural change through art, education and activism.
Michelle Evans left high school in 1997 thinking she could never learn math or have a science career. Today she has a 4.0 in math. A member of Phi Theta Kappa, she volunteers in the paleontology laboratory at the Burke Museum. Her goal? A science major.
By studying biology, Sarah Otto-Combs feels she can help solve some of the problems of modern society. The talented drummer splits her time between her SCCC classes, work and playing with a local band.
Marianne Powell entered SCCC planning to study linguistics, but a biology field trip introduced her to the world of botany. Now her interests focus on plant taxonomy, pathology and biochemistry. She plans to study biology at the University of Washington.
High school physics awakened Adrian Haruta's interest in engineering. He was especially intrigued by the movement of machinery and the structural stability of objects. Adrian plans to major in electrical and mechanical engineering.
Growing up in Peru, Patricia Sandiga discovered an affinity for physics and mathematics. After enrolling in medical school there, she decided to contribute her talents in a different way through engineering.
She returned to the United States, where she was born, and began working as a cook and learning English in order to reach her educational goals. She plans to major in civil engineering with the goal of designing and building structures that will in turn shape society.
New student advisor brings fresh ideas
"I see myself as a direct point of contact and an advocate for the students," he said. "I want to provide a refuge for them when times are tough. There are no wrong questions if that's what a student is feeling."
Carlos grew up on Beacon Hill and served seven years in the U.S. Army before completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Washington in 2001. A psychology and sociology major, he said that he would never have considered attending the UW had he not been encouraged to do so by a neighbor already enrolled there.
Carlos has a passion for computers and is deeply interested in the "digital divide." While at Pierce College, he served as program coordinator on a National Science Foundation grant aimed at developing new instructional approaches to attract and retain nontraditional community college students in the information technology field.
"Coming onto the NSF grant and teaching computer skills gave me an understanding of the barriers that exist in the field," he said. "I want to fostter broader access in the sciences."
In his spare time, he enjoys jogging, programming and, most important, spending time with family.
Up, up and away...
SG team launches student rocket payloads
On Oct. 13, a rocket carrying the first student-built payloads from UW's High Altitude Research Projects class soared 5,000 feet into the air over Eastern Washington.
The class (ESS 472), offered last summer, was developed with support from Washington Space Grant.
Although not limited to ESS majors, the class is designed primarily to give those students an upper level, lab-based opportunity to participate in a hands-on project.
The students' work will eventually help researchers investigate the relationship between cosmic rays and atmospheric electrical properties.
"We want to build an infrastructure to put payloads up in the air whenever we needed to take measurements," said Professor Michael McCarthy. One scenario might involve looking at processes in thunderstorms while lightning is going on.
Under clear skies, the Space Grant team joined the Washington Rocketry Association at their regular launch site in Mansfield.
The group successfully launched a Level 1 rocket carrying a radio transmitter and a Level 2 rocket equipped with electric field and radiation detectors.
An onboard computer on the second rocket failed to transmit data. However, all instruments were recovered intact and subsequent ground testing showed that they were still generating good data.
The team was unable to launch a third rocket due to ignition problems. Another attempt is planned for spring.
Heritage intern presents research at AISES
Heritage University senior Paul Burdeaux presented the results of his research at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society's national conference in November.
As a Space Grant intern, Paul modified a re-entry vehicle for Access to Space, his university's high altitude balloon program. His goal is to bring the data gathered by the balloon safely back to the ground.
The latest version of the device appears likely to meet that goal, said Heritage Professor Greg Van Doren, Paul's mentor.
He and Paul, an environmental sciences major, are planning a test launch after the first of the year.
CC transfers now have two opportunities to apply for SG scholarships
Beginning in 2008, community college transfer students who entered the University of Washington in winter or spring quarters will be able to apply for Space Grant transfer scholarships.
"Meeting with community college students last year we learned that we were excluding many students who wanted to apply for our scholarships," said Space Grant Director Robert Winglee.
Very few scholarships are open to transfer students. In the past, only students who planned to enter the UW in fall quarter were eligible to apply for Space Grant awards. Most applications are still expected to come from fall transfer students.
Space Grant scholarships are open to students planning to study science, technology, engineering or math. Space Grant awards approximately 20-25 UW scholarships annually, with four to five going to transfer students.
The scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,500 and are awarded for one year at a time. Scholars must maintain program requirements for their majors and a satisfactory GPA.
The scholarship program is designed to create a small college atmosphere within the larger university. Scholars receive help with registration, campus resources and academic advising. They also have early opportunities to participate in research.
Depending on the availability of funding, scholars may apply for an additional year of support provided that they maintain program requirements for their majors and a satisfactory GPA.
Alumni News: Where are they now?
Erin Strobel Hicks, WSU '99, completed her doctorate at UCLA and is now a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Germany. Last year, she received an NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship. Erin participated in the SG Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) in 1997.
Hakim Weatherspoon, UW '99, was hired as a research associate in the computer science department at Cornell University. A former Space Grant scholar, he received his master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, working in the area of secure and fault-tolerant distributed wide-area storage systems.
Jessica Barkas, UW '00, completed her year as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in the Sea Grant National Law Center, working with the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology. Jessica, a former Space Grant scholar and marine biologist, received her undergraduate degree from UW and her law degree from Seattle University.
Former Space Grant scholar Misty Bentz, UW '02, has accepted a postdoctoral research position in the physics and astronomy department at the University of California, Irvine. Misty received her doctorate in astronomy from Ohio State University last June.
Victoria Lockhart, UW '05, recently co-authored an article in the Journal of Development, Genes and Evolution based on her 2005 SURP research with Associate Professor Billie Swalla. Victoria is employed as a research technician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Space Grant alumna Laura Grupp, UW '07, is at the University of California, San Diego pursuing a doctorate in computer science and engineering with an emphasis on computer architecture.
Kimberlee Shish, UW '07, is now at Stanford University pursuing her master's in aeronautics and astronautics. Kimberlee, a NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate intern, spent last summer at Goddard Space Flight Center working on robotics projects including lunar rover modality problems and performance tests of a FANUC robotic arm.
Brittany Blue is the community child passenger safety coordinator for Children's Hospital in Seattle. Brittany was a Seattle Central Community College Space Grant scholar in 2003.
SG Scholars' Achievements
Celeste Hoffman, a Space Grant scholar at Seattle Central Community College, was again awarded a SG scholarship — this time at the University of Washington. Celeste, a civil engineering major, also has an internship at the Lake Forest Park Water District.
SG scholar Pranoti Hiremath was selected one of 121 national Presidential Scholars. The incoming freshman traveled to Washington, D.C. last summer, for a week of activities including meeting with President Bush and the secretary of education.
Kevin Bell, a sophomore SG scholar majoring in physics, spent his summer working on computer-chip design at Japan's National Institute for Materials Science.
The results of SURP participant Jeremy Brudvik's summer research on inspiring blind students to pursue computer science was published as a paper in the proceedings of the 39th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education SIGCSE '08.
A UW Research Fellowship for Advanced Undergraduates allowed SURP participant Ryan Maas to continue his research into dwarf galaxies. SURP alumna Robyn Laing is still studying behavioral neuroscience, thanks to a Mary Gates Research Scholarship and support from UW Arts & Sciences.
SPACE GRANT NEWS
SG fellowships now available at UW
Current UW graduate students working in the areas of science, math, engineering or technology directly related to NASA research interests are now eligible to apply for a Space Grant fellowship.
The 2007-2008 fellowships will provide one to two graduate students with a single quarter to focus solely on their thesis research.
Applicants must be primarily supported by teaching assistantships and have little or no funding to support research projects required for their master's or doctoral thesis. Graduate students who require bridge funding to complete their projects in NASA-related research interests are also eligible to apply.
Fellowship applications are accepted twice a year.
Student design team takes top honors
Last spring, a UW team supported by Space Grant dominated the field at the 10th Annual SAMPE Lightweight Bridge Building and Wing Competition in Baltimore. The UW team took fourth place overall, sweeping first place in five categories.
The teams compete to design and build a bridge or wing with the highest strength to weight ratio. Students majoring in materials sciences and engineering and in aeronautics and astronautics worked together to conceptualize and manufacture the entries.
SAMPE is an international society of engineers who lead the industry of composite materials.