Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers Fall/Winter 2008

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Table of Contents:


IYA student ambassador encourages the public to look up & learn

Sarah Myers

NASA student ambassador and WSU astrophysics major Sarah Myers

Astrophysics major Sarah Myers of Washington State University has been selected the state's NASA student ambassador for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).

IYA 2009 will be a yearlong global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo.

Sarah is one of 52 undergraduate and graduate students selected to represent NASA in their local communities. The students were selected on the basis of their qualifications, interests and plans for community outreach.

Astronomy has always been Sarah's passion. "Ever since I can remember, I have been awed by the night sky," she said. "I have always been drawn to the unknown, and have wanted to go into space."

A member of the Air Force for five years, she worked with satellites in Air Force Space Command. In her spare time, she volunteered with the Challenger Learning Center, helping students learn the science concepts behind NASA's Mars exploration.

After graduation next spring, she will begin work as a physicist at the Kirtland Air Force Research Branch in Albuquerque.

Sarah is especially interested in reaching out to junior high students and showing them "the universe is at their fingertips." Hands-on activities and events like star parties also offer an opportunity to correct people's misconceptions about astronomical phenomena such as why our planet has seasons or why the moon has phases.

"We're lucky to have an observatory and planetarium here, as both are great tools for demonstrating astronomy," she said.

She has already started working with the WSU faculty and the physics department to schedule classroom visits and public events. Her goal is to reach at least 20 different classrooms, as well as work with the WSU physics and astronomy club to host star parties and planetarium shows for the general public.

After meeting with astronaut John Fabian and cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov last fall, she also hopes to organize a series of teleconferences so students can talk with astronauts directly about their experiences in space.

IYA events are being planned around the country and online. In April, there will be a 100-hour, round-the-clock, round-the-globe event, including live webcasts from research observatories and public observing events. One goal is to allow as many people as possible to look through a telescope, as Galileo first did 400 years ago.

To contact Sarah Myers about a classroom visit or event, e-mail nasa_super_nova@yahoo.com.


NWIC offers first baccalaureate degree

Jessie Urbanec

At the SG reception last fall, NWIC student researcher Jessie Urbanec presented her work on the negative impacts of industry, agriculture and increased human population on shellfish in the Nooksack River Basin and Bellingham Bay.

When Northwest Indian College awards its first four-year degrees, the six current Space Grant scholars will be among the graduates.

The new bachelor of science degree in Native Environmental Science is intended to meet the critical need for Native American environmental scientists and tribal leaders, said Dan Burns, NWIC's science director.

The curriculum was designed with input from tribal elders and leaders, environmental managers, educators and students. The program emphasizes the integration of knowledge and relationships between culture, traditional ecological knowledge, and western science. Courses include topics such as hydrology, mathematics, and native rights and environmental ethics.

The strength of the program lies in its commitment to tribal communities, hands-on learning and a connection with tribal leaders and scientists, Burns said.

Last summer, SG scholars worked on the Lummi Nation campus, researching possible hypoxia in Bellingham Bay. Another SG scholar conducted research on pesticide use on Nez Perce Nation lands.


SG scholar builds road for Bolivian farmers

EWB project

Community volunteers and UW students work to stabilize the road outside the village of Yanayo.

In September, SG scholar Dean Chahim traveled to the Andes mountains to work on a road project aimed at improving local villagers' access to markets, schools, health clinics, and neighboring communities.

The UW chapter of Engineers Without Borders has been working since 2006 to improve conditions in Yanayo, a 500-year-old farming village in Bolivia. The community's dirt road has experienced catastrophic slope failures every rainy season due to loose soil and a lack of retaining walls or drainage systems, Dean said.

During their three-week stay, the students participated in design meetings and worked side by side with local volunteers. Working construction at high altitude was an exhausting and fantastic experience, he said.

Not only did the students learn the civil engineering aspects of low volume road engineering, he said, but also "the fundamental importance of understanding the intricacies of local politics and culture."

His Spanish studies also proved useful, he said: "I am not fluent, but I can carry a conversation easily, which made it all the more interesting to learn from the villagers directly about their lives and traditions."

Dean has been appointed lead for the roads project team. They plan to return next year to continue work on a different section of road in the same area.


WSGC gains two members east of the Cascades

Whitworth University and Central Washington University joined the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium last summer, increasing WSGC's academic membership to 12 colleges and universities.

Both universities have established Space Grant research awards for undergraduates working with faculty mentors on their home campuses.

Adding Whitworth and Central Washington will open up new opportunities for students in parts of the state where NASA traditionally has had a limited impact on their educational experiences, said Space Grant Director Robert Winglee.

"Through these opportunities, students can enhance their skill sets in ways that broaden their career paths," he said, and also strengthen the nation's science and technology base.

Central Washington University has an enrollment of approximately 8,400 students on its Ellensburg campus.

Michael Jackson, chair of the physics department, said joining Space Grant will allow students and faculty to take advantage of the network of scientists and engineers connected to NASA and the aerospace industry.

So far two CWU students have received research awards. Both projects received additional support through the National Science Foundation.

Travis Petersen, a physics senior, assisted on research into far-infrared laser emissions, used to investigate free radicals of atmospheric and interstellar interest.

A research paper, including the discovery of eight laser lines, has been submitted for publication. Jennifer Groves' work in physical chemistry will also be submitted for publication.

Whitworth University, located in Spokane, has 2,600 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Whitworth students recently launched their first high-altitude balloon experiments.

Kamesh Sankaran, an associate professor of physics at Whitworth University, was already working with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center on plasma propulsion research.

Consortium membership will help the university continue to develop "sustainable collaborative student-faculty research programs on topics of interest to NASA," he said.

Physics majors Kellen Oetgen and Mahyo Seyedali are conducting computational research on plasma propulsion. A recent poster looked at lithium plasma thruster performance on Mars cargo missions.


Industry interns say hands-on experience opens career doors

Erica Capalungan

Private industry intern Erica Capalungan at Aerojet (Aerojet approval no. 2008-017)

Three years ago, SG intern Adam Hendricksen was working on a robotics project at Tethers Unlimited Inc. Today he's a propulsion engineer at The Boeing Co., working on the Ares I upper main stage propulsion system.

Every day, Adam — a UW aeronautics and astronautics graduate — draws upon his hands-on manufacturing experiences as an intern to ensure America‚Äôs next human launch vehicle is "safe, inexpensive to produce and fl y, and able to fulfi ll its mission," he says.

Last summer, four students were placed in SG private industry internships at Aerojet and Tethers. The internships give employers a chance to know the students and in many cases, they are later hired full time, said Chuck Cushing at Aerojet human resources.

Erica Capalungan, a UW mechanical engineering major, says her experience convinced her to focus on rocket propulsion in graduate school.

The awards are open to juniors, seniors and graduate students in good academic standing. Applicants must be enrolled full time in a Space Grant member college or university.

Private industry internship opportunities are posted on the Space Grant Web site, beginning in early spring.


New fellowships give TAs time for research

Christopher Lum

Christopher Lum, a doctoral candidate in aeronautics and astronautics, used his break from teaching to work on his research into guidance algorithms and controllers for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last summer Eric Hilton, a UW doctoral candidate in astronomy, was invited to Scotland to present his research at Cool Stars 15, the top conference in his field. A member of his thesis committee invited him to spend a week after the biannual conference collaborating with colleagues in Northern Ireland.

"If I had been TAing, I could not have missed two weeks during the quarter, and would have been unable to attend," he said.

Instead, a Space Grant fellowship allowed him to leave teaching for a quarter and concentrate on his work determining the galactic flare rate for low-mass stars.

In the past year, seven fellowships have been awarded to UW graduate students working in areas of science, math, engineering or technology directly related to NASA research interests.

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. Director Robert Winglee said there has been a strong need for this type of fellowship.

The duties of a teaching assistant consumes a tremendous amount of time. Eric estimates that grading, attending lecture, preparing for sections, and the teaching itself takes up about 20 hours a week, more toward the end of the quarter.

"If I'm trying to meet a proposal deadline or prepare for a meeting, this time sink can be very disruptive," he said.

Alyson Brooks, an '08 UW alumna and recipient of one of the first fellowships, is now the Sherman Fairchild Prize Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology.

SG fellows receive $5,000 and tuition. UW 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. The next deadline is February 13, 2009.


SCCC expands Space Grant scholarships

SCCC transfer scholars

Space Grant Associate Director Erika Harnett with scholarship recipients Kami Zhong and Jack Vorhies.

This year, Seattle Central Community College expanded its Space Grant scholarship program to provide fi nancial support for science and engineering majors advancing to four-year institutions.

Jack Vorhies, a bioengineering major headed to the University of California, Berkeley, and Kami Zhong, an electrical engineering major transferring to the University of Washington, became the first recipients of the new transfer scholarships.

Ten other SCCC students received Space Grant scholarships. All SCCC scholarships are $2,700.

Several of the Space Grant scholars such as Christine Anderson are returning to school after a signifi cant time in the workforce. Christine was training for a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society marathon when she found her vocation. Her goal now is to complete a degree in exercise science and apply her knowledge in a clinical setting.

Other scholarship awardees are Daniel Antone, science major; Kieran Boike, science major; Michelle James, biology; Sarah Lim, biology; Nickolas Stelzenmuller, mechanical engineering; Chad Truitt, science major; and Nicholas Ware, mechanical engineering.

A second year of scholarship support was also awarded to Sarah Otto-Combs, a biology major, and Michelle "Miszka" Evans.

Michelle credits her Space Grant scholarship with giving her the confi dence to enroll in astronomy, a subject that she always loved. During the year, she successfully completed an intro to astronomy class and research paper on astrobiology. As a result of her positive experiences, she is now considering a major in the field.

SCCC officials note that 67 percent of their full-time students work. A student with tuition provided can work 10 hours less each week and study more, increasing the likelihood of transferring to a four-year school and graduating.

Since 2001, SCCC has awarded 61 full-tuition Space Grant scholarships to science, math and engineering students


Student researchers at SCCC

With help from Space Grant, Seattle Central Community College successfully launched its own undergraduate research program.

SCCC has been steadily increasing its research opportunities for students . In 2006, an SCCC team conducted microgravity experiments aboard a specially modifi ed NASA aircraft that simulates weightlessness. They were the only community college students accepted to fly that year.

Last winter, the student researchers enrolled in a twocredit course covering basics such as how to use library databases for literature reviews. Students also gave journal club presentations on research questions.

In the spring, SURE (SCCC Undergraduate Research Experiences) placed a dozen students in research projects, working with UW researchers and private industry.

The first SURE poster session was held last summer.


Annual reception honors SG scholars

Ellen McCleery

Ellen McCleery, a major in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at Whitman College, received Space Grant support for her research on cellular mechanisms. For more reception information, please download our 2008 program (5.49MB) or the 2008 book of student abstracts.

On Sept. 26, almost 70 student researchers presented the results of their work to University of Washington faculty, family and fellow students at the annual Space Grant Reception and Poster Session.

The annual event offered guests an opportunity to see the accomplishments of Space Grant students throughout the state, as well as the work of the Space Grant Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) participants.

For NASA Academy intern Michelle Sybouts and other students, the reception was a chance to share their enthusiasm.

"My research at Goddard was phenomenal," she said. "I worked on contaminant analysis for the Mars Science Laboratory, which is set to launch in fall, 2009."

Attendees and presenters included faculty and students from UW, Heritage University, Northwest Indian College, Seattle Central Community College, Washington State University and Whitman College. Representatives of Aerojet, a WSGC industry affiliate, also attended.

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, it provided a chance to be recognized and share their experiences.

The reception also honored 29 incoming UW scholars — one of the largest classes of incoming scholars in Space Grant history.

The UW Space Grant scholarship program receives additional support from the Louise and Irving R. Donnergaard Endowment, the Sigurd Olsen Endowment, the Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Memorial Diversity Endowment, and the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.


Astronauts & cosmonauts visit

Astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world recently fanned out to visit schools and community centers throughout Washington.

The goodwill visits were part of the Association of Space Explorers XXI Planetary Congress, held Sept. 15-19 in Seattle.

Approximately 42,000 people — from a home school group in Oak Harbor to grade schoolers in Vancouver to middle schoolers in Bremerton to college students in Pullman — participated in the events, said Seth Margolis, education director for the Museum of Flight.

The museum hosted the Congress and coordinated the community visits. This year's theme was "Exploring Space, Inspiring Planetary Stewardship."

The association is a non-profit educational organization that includes about 300 astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world.

Flyers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Rumania, Russia, and the USA participated in the visits.


SCCC student creates sound of life in a NASA moon colony

Keith Cowan, a pre-engineering student at Seattle Central Community College, received a NASA summer internship to help to develop Living on the Moon, a multi-media project.

"The main goal of the project is to raise public awareness and interest in NASA's plans to establish a lunar outpost on the moon," Keith said.

To do this, the team is developing small media pieces geared toward the general public and students in kindergarten through grade 12. Keith is responsible for the sound design on productions aimed at K-12 students.

"I've never done sound for picture before," he said. "Syncing sound with a visual is fun, and it doesn't hurt that the visuals are some of the most stunning photographs ever taken."

Each piece features one of three major engineering challenges facing a lunar outpost: dust in the environment, water supply and radiation exposure.

Keith recently completed the one on lunar dust. The team is now waiting for the lunar scientist to add the narration.

The internship is unique in allowing participants to remain at home and still work directly with a NASA center.

When not designing soundtracks, Keith works as a laboratory assistant in the UW Earth and space sciences department. He is also enrolled in UW's rockets and instrumentation class.


Alumni News: Where are they now?

Hans-Peter Marshall, a '99 UW alumnus, won the prestigious Young Scientist Award from the International Union of Radio Science last summer. Now on faculty at Boise State University, he is currently the research chair for the American Avalanche Association, a research affiliate with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, and a consultant for the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. Hans-Peter participated in WSGC's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), beginning as an incoming freshman.

Jessica (Hughes) Turner, an '01 UW alumna and SG scholar, recently completed her doctorate in molecular virology and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is now a post-doctoral scholar in cancer immunology.

Melissa Skala, an '02 Washington State University alumna and former SG scholar, has received a National Institutes of Health NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship and is now a postdoc in biomedical engineering at Duke University. Her research focuses on molecular imaging using nanoparticles, and monitoring vascular response to cancer therapy using optical coherence tomography and hyperspectral imaging. Melissa graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in physics.

Lee Zeman, '02 UW alumna and SG scholar, is manager of the scientifi c database lab at the Evergreen State College, doing analysis and visualization of ecological data. In 2007, she took part in the Mongol Rally, a charity event where teams drive from London to Ulaan Baatar, fundraising and donating vehicles to help agricultural groups and homeless youth in Mongolia. She plans a return run in 2009.

Emmett Lalish, an '05 UW alumnus and SG scholar, presented his research on collision avoidance for multivehicle systems at the Conference on Decision and Control. He is completing a UW doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics.

Jaime Hale, an '07 UW alumna and SG transfer scholar, is now a fl ight test engineer for The Boeing Co.'s commercial division, working on 777 and 737 derivatives.

Paul Burdeaux, an '08 Heritage University alumnus and WSGC intern who worked on the school's high-altitude balloon project, spent his summer at the Yakima Firing Range, using his knowledge of GPS mapping systems to mark a series of traffic routes for land vehicles. A former English major, he received his baccalaureate degree in natural resources and is now employed in the laboratory of John I. Haas, Inc., a leading developer of hop-based products for use in and outside the brewing industry.

Justin Ricaurte, an '08 UW alumnus and SG scholar, co-founded Mavenry, Inc., a software startup developing financial products for businesses. He received his bachelor's degree in business administration.

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

Vaswani and Fullerton

On October 2, Astronaut Gordon Fullerton presented the 2008-09 Astronaut Scholarship to Pavan Vaswani, an SG scholar majoring in biochemistry, computer science, and neurobiology. UW is one of only 19 schools in the country whose students may be nominated for these competitive scholarships. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was established by the surviving original Mercury Seven astronauts to ensure the United States will maintain its leadership in science and technology by supporting promising students in science and engineering.

SURP participant Kenza Arraki received a NASA MUST scholarship (Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology), which carries the option of a summer internship at a NASA research center. Kenza, an astronomy and physics major, also received a UW Presidential Scholarship to continue her research on asteroids and quasars.

SG Fellow David Peters presented his paper, "Velocity Distribution and Plasma Density Measurements in an Inductive Microthruster Plume," at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics conference in November.

In September, undergraduate SG scholar Genia Vogman presented results from her SURP project ("Investigating ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Plasmas via Emissive Spectroscopy") at the International Astronautical Federation Conference in Scotland. The presentation received the silver medal, sponsored by the Association Aeronautique Astronautique de France.

Closer to home, SG scholar Michelle Kriner, a biochemistry major, received the Hyp Dauben Award, given to the top undergraduate in UW's honors chemistry series. Celeste Hoffman, an SG transfer scholar, received a Society of Women Engineers Scholarship. Her major is civil engineering.


SPACE GRANT NEWS

Name the Mars Rover

Help NASA find the right name for its car-sized Mars Science Laboratory rover, scheduled for launch in 2009.

The winner will visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the rover is under construction, and sign his or her name on the real rover. The naming contest is open to U.S. students ages 5-18 who are enrolled in the current academic year.

Essays must be received by January 25, 2009. The public will vote on the finalists in March. For complete instructions, visit http://marsrovername.jpl.nasa.gov.

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