Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Spring/Summer 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:

SG scholars take 2007 Goldwater honors

Pavan Vaswani

Pavan Vaswani

The same exceptional ability that netted Pavan Vaswani a Space Grant scholarship has won him a national Goldwater Scholarship.

Pavan, a computer science and biochemistry major, has been passionate about science since third grade. In junior high, he won a contest to tour Intel's fabrication plant and he thought his career path was set, interning with the company in high school.

But when the SG Summer Undergraduate Research Program placed him in UW's applied physics lab, his plans shifted abruptly. One day his mentor allowed him to help test the device they were developing to measure intracranial pressure non-invasively.

"I called my parents that night and said, 'I'm thinking about going into medical research,' " he said. He now plans to enroll in an M.D./Ph.D. program and eventually design medical devices.

"I really like the research that I'm doing now," he says. "It's engineering with a medical twist."

Jennifer Drigger

Jennifer Drigger

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, established in 1986, are intended to help alleviate the nation's critical shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Scholars are nominated by faculty and selected on the basis of academic merit. This year, 317 scholarships were awarded to undergraduate sophomores and juniors around the country. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 annually.

Sam Burden

Sam Burden

Jennifer Driggers, a 2005 SURP participant, also won a Goldwater scholarship. She plans to pursue a doctorate, studying gravitational wave physics.

SG scholar Sam Burden, a junior majoring in computer and electrical engineering, received an honorable mention. The SURP participant recently presented a research paper at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Rome. He is also part of UW's winning math modeling team.Astrophysics major Sarah Myers of Washington State University has been selected the state's NASA student ambassador for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).

Alternative spring break brings space thrills to classroom

Nimisha and Monika

Nimisha Ghosh Roy helps ninth grader Monika Garcia solve a lava flow question about her Mars volcano.

SG scholar Nimisha Ghosh Roy believes that positive memories of science in middle and high school can set the stage for future success in science, whether as a career or simply as an involved citizen.

To help create those memories, she organized a team of UW undergraduates to lead an Earth and space sciences exploration week for eighth and ninth graders at Brewster Junior-Senior High School.

The project was part of UW Pipeline Project's "alternative spring break." Space Grant provided funding for supplies.

"I was continually amazed by the students' creativity and originality as they wrote in their Mars journals and created Martian volcanoes and life forms," said Nimisha, who plans to teach physics and Earth science.

Team member Suzanne Hayward, a SG scholar and astronomy major, said students often have the mistaken idea that science is "nitpicky and impersonal." Having fun with science can change their minds.

Nimisha recently won the Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship, which will support her master's in teaching studies at Seattle Pacific University and her early career in secondary science education.

New Space Grant scholars strive to solve the nearly impossible


Elizabeth DeLeeuw


Dean Chahim

Dean Chahim's childhood dream was to build spaceships and the Garfield High student has pictures of himself with a LEGO version of the space shuttle to prove it.

Elizabeth DeLeeuw of Spokane understands the lure of engineering. She co-founded St. George High School's FIRST robotics program and coached three FIRST Junior LEGO League teams.

Dean and Elizabeth are two of the 17 talented incoming freshmen that will join the ranks of Space Grant scholars attending the University of Washington this fall.

This year 218 promising high school students applied for scholarships.

Space Grant awards range in size from $1,000 to $5,500 annually. Awards can be renewed for three more years contingent on NASA funding and students' meeting program requirements.

Both Dean and Elizabeth put a high value on teamwork.

Dean was a member of the school's Future Problem Solving Program, which took first in state competition and seventh internationally. He played cello with the orchestra and chamber society. He also served as vice president of the drama club and led backcountry trips with Post 84, Garfield's student-led outdoor education program. He plans to major in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

Elizabeth, who plans to major in chemistry, participated in math club and competed on the Knowledge Bowl team. To ensure the school's FIRST program endures, she started a mentoring program to bring in younger students.

Matching funds for the Space Grant scholarships are provided by the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, as well as the Mary Gates, Sigurd Olsen and Irving R. and Louise Donnergaard endowments. Scholarships have also been offered to five community college students transferring to the University of Washington this fall. These may be renewed for an additional year.

During the 2006-07 school year, Space Grant scholarships supported 70 incoming and continuing UW students. Additional Space Grant scholarships and fellowships are awarded each year at Washington State University, Western Washington University, Whitman College, Seattle Central and North Seattle Community Colleges, and University of Puget Sound.

Student teams receive SG awards

With help from Space Grant, a 15-member design team mentored by University of Washington Professor Brian Flinn of the materials science and engineering department will fly to Baltimore in June to take on two national challenges.

One is to build an ultra light composite wing; the other, to design and build a single deck composite bridge from materials provided. The student competitions are sponsored by the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE).

Seattle Central Community College students Violette Manning and Bolan Meek also received an SG Team Award to support their collaboration with an Oregon microgravity team.

In May, the team traveled to Johnson Space Center to fly their experiment in reduced gravity aboard NASA's DC-9 aircraft.

Alumni News: Where are they now?

Former Space Grant scholar Rafael Leckie, UW '98, was recently hired as a postdoc in the materials science department at University of California Santa Barbara where he completed his doctorate last December. Rafael received one of Space Grant's first scholarships for community college transfer students.

Christine Palermo, UW '00, received the Leah J. Dickstein, M.D. Award, the Association of Women Psychiatrists top national honor for medical students. Christine, now in her third year of medical school at University of Hawaii working in geriatric mental health research, was a Space Grant scholar and SURP researcher.

Emmett Lalish, UW '05, served as leader for the UW design/build/fly team in the annual student competition sponsored by Cessna Aircraft and Raytheon Missile Systems. Emmett is working in the Nonlinear Dynamics and Control Lab and pursuing his engineering master's in aeronautics and astronautics.

Paul Lang, UW '06, returned from his post-graduation trip to New Zealand to join the Maryland Department of the Environment. He received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering.

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

William Biederman, YungChing (Frank) Chen, Kyle Hughes, SG scholar Alexander Mendez and Jodi Shi of the University of Washington—plus Alec Cattarin of Seattle University—are headed to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as JPL/Space Grant summer interns.

North Seattle Community College students Kevin Gould and Stacey Huang received Space Grant physics tutoring scholarships. The scholars tutor students, and are in turn mentored on best practices in physics teaching.

SG scholar Margo Haney, a UW senior, took top honors at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) last November for her research on CPEB, the neuronal protein responsible for long-term memory storage. Genia Vogman took second place at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics regional student research conference with her paper on ZaP spectroscopy. She also received an emerging leaders award. CSE major Nick Astete joined Illumita, a startup founded by UW professors.

Summer is a busy time for UW Space Grant scholars. Melvin Donaldson, Alexandra MacKenzie and Kathy Wei will be conducting biotechnology research as UW Amgen Scholars. Last spring, Melvin presented "Landscape Evolution in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica," based on his 2006 SURP project, at the 21st National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR 21) at Dominican University of California.

Robert Gay, a sophomore majoring in computer science, landed a summer internship at Redfin, the first online residential real estate brokerage. Kathryn Winglee will be in Iceland with CHID's study abroad program. Katie Liu, a UW neurobiology and biochemistry major, is headed back to Woods Hole Marine Laboratory. In August, she begins her year in China as part of the UW-Sichuan exchange, exploring the mechanoreceptive properties of the sundew plant and gathering specimens for the NYU Botanical Gardens.

Graduation news: Chemistry major Carie Frantz will pursue her doctorate in geobiology at USC, working with microbial fuel cells. Megan Karalus is squeezing in a volunteer service trip to Mexico before her UW master's program in mechanical engineering this fall. CSE major Sara Van Nortwick returned from an exchange quarter with the Swiss science and technology university ETH Zurich to a UW medical school acceptance. Ilan Jen-LaPlante will continue her chemistry studies at UC Berkeley. Microsoft has hired CSE major Kerry Westphal as an Excel program manager. James Kuo, a bioengineering major, is taking a year off to work with AmeriCorps before medical school.


July space science educator workshop offered

Blast Off to Learning, an intensive three-day workshop aimed at formal and informal educators working with children ages 5-10, will take place July 10-12 at Heritage University in Toppenish.

Participants will receive a $100 stipend to help defray expenses. The deadline to register is June 22, 2007. For more information, go to http://www.s2n2.org/astounding/