Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

Expanding Frontiers 2009

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WSGC celebrates 20th anniversary

This year Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) will celebrate 20 years of providing research, education and public service programs for the state's learners of all ages.

WSGC began at the University of Washington in 1989 when NASA took the century-old idea of a land grant university and gave it a new spin, creating the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, a national network of colleges and universities.

Today, WSGC is a statewide consortium offering higher education programs at a dozen colleges and universities. More than 200 students a year receive Space Grant scholarships and fellowships or participate in Space Grant sponsored internships on their home campus, in private industry or at a NASA center.

Through the North Central Educational Service District, the Museum of Flight and Pacific Science Center, WSGC enhances K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and supports informal education programs to increase science literacy statewide.

During the 20th year Space Grant College and Fellowship Program evaluation last winter, the reviewers cited the consortium's overall excellence and significant achievements, especially the sustained engagement of Heritage University, Northwest Indian College and Seattle Central Community College.

Evaluators said the program showed a strong impact in the state and strong programs in all areas. "The fellowship and scholarship program is well-balanced and inclusive," they wrote. Over 80 percent of Space Grant's undergraduates remain in the STEM fields after graduation.

Anniversary festivities are planned as part of WSGC's annual reception and poster session in October.

2008 group photo

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2008-09 Space Grant scholarship recipients and internship awardees with student advisor J. Carlos Chavez and director Robert Winglee (left to right center), and associate director Erika Harnett (far left)


WWU leader elected to Astronaut Hall of Fame

Wetherby, Shepherd and Nelson

2009 Hall of Fame inductees Jim Wetherby, William Shepherd and George "Pinky"Nelson. (For more photos, see the 2009 Astronaut Scholar Technical Conference and Hall of Fame Induction Gala )

Nelson in space

George "Pinky" Nelson (right) and fellow astronaut James van Hoften perform repairs on a satellite while in orbit in 1984.

George "Pinky" Nelson, director of Western Washington University's Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education program, was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center.

"It's a special honor because the voting is done by our peers, the astronauts who have already been inducted," Nelson said. "We are being recognized not only for our work in space, but just as much for the things we did on the ground to support the program."

A mission specialist on three Space Shuttle launches, he orbited the planet 274 times and was the first astronaut to repair a satellite in orbit. He is also the first and only American to "test fly" the Russian version of the astronaut jetpack and chaired a task force that oversaw the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions.

Nelson served as WSGC's first associate director and continues to direct the Space Grant programs at Western Washington University.


New Anderson fund helps more students attend Museum of Flight

On June 26, the Museum of Flight dedicated a bronze statue honoring Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson.

The memorial campaign— headed by civic and business leaders in Seattle and Spokane— also established the Michael Anderson Aerospace Scholarship for Children of Color. The fund will enable more underserved children to participate in the museum's educational programs in science, technology, engineering and math.

Anderson was payload commander aboard the Columbia. The shuttle was lost during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003.

Approximately 120 people attended the celebration of Anderson's life and achievements, including his parents, colleagues and friends, and fellow Air Force officers.

A native of Cheney, Anderson attended the University of Washington where he was a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and earned his undergraduate degree in astronomy and physics in 1981. He earned his master's degree in physics at Creighton University. Anderson was selected as an astronaut in 1994.

Museum president Bonnie Dunbar flew with Anderson on the Space Shuttle Endeavour's mission to the Russian space station, MIR.

"It's hard to lose people you know, but Michael was doing and living his dream," she said.

His friends and family said he would want his example to inspire a new generation to become the best that they can be.

Anderson dedication

Barbara and Bobbie Anderson (center) watch as the memorial in honor of their son Lt. Col.Michael P. Anderson is unveiled. The statue, a replica of the one erected in Spokane, is located outside the Personal Courage Wing at the entrance for school groups.


SG scholar awarded Goldwater honors

Pranoti Hiremath

Pranoti Hiremath

University of Washington sophomore Pranoti Hiremath of Seattle received a national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

A bioengineering major, Pranoti took part in Space Grant's Summer Undergraduate Research Program as an incoming freshman, researching ways to predict structure in bifunctional peptides.

She now conducts research on vascular calcification with Professor Mei Speer and mentors fellow undergraduates in the Space Grant and UW Honors programs.

Named for the longtime Arizona senator, the scholarships were established in 1986 to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in math, the natural sciences and engineering.

Since 2001, a third of UW's 24 Goldwater scholars have also been Space Grant scholars.


Two named state NASA Student Ambassadors

Space Grant scholars Michelle Sybouts and Sean Livingston were selected to represent Washington in the NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community.

The new interactive community brings together internship alumni with NASA staff and current interns.

Ambassadors may participate in NASA events, and are notified of NASA employment and educational opportunities. They also lead and facilitate online discussions of current NASA events and research programs.

Students are nominated by project managers at the NASA centers. The first group of ambassadors includes interns from 35 states and 64 universities.

Michelle Sybouts, a UW junior in biology, interned at the NASA Academy at Goddard Space Flight Center. Sean Livingston, a UW sophomore interested in aeronautical engineering, interned with the WSGC Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

For more about NASA Student Ambassadors, go to http://intern.nasa.gov/.


SG Scholars' Achievements

Summer is a busy time for new and returning WSGC scholars. Andrew Pilloud of WSU is returning to the Robotics Academy at NASA Ames Research Center; Alisha Marie Babbitt of UW will participate in the academy at NASA Goddard. Harkirat Sohi of UW received an ESMD internship at NASA Glenn, where she'll be studying ways to reduce muscle atrophy in space.

Michelle Sybouts, Mark Chilenski, Michael Pfaff, Natalie Rodriguez, and Lawrence Shieh, all UW, will be going to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as WSGC/JPL interns. Melissa Street of WSU was accepted into the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) program at NASA Langley. Genia Vogman of UW is interning at NASA Ames, analyzing light radiation from re-entry vehicles.

Janine Hopmans of UW received a WSGC private industry internship at Aerojet-Redmond; Sara Bucht of the University of Puget Sound and Cosmo Smith of UW received internships at Woodruff Scientific Inc. Stephen Kreiger and Arthur Amende, both UW, will intern with Tethers Inc.

Graduation news: At UW, SG/Astronaut scholar Pavan Vaswani was named the President's Medalist. He starts the MD/PhD progam at Johns Hopkins University this fall. Celeste Hoffman will continue her UW civil engineering studies as a graduate student. Celeste met her thesis advisor through SURP. Nathan Powel, an A&A major, will also remain at UW for his doctorate. Vida Ahyong, a biochemistry/microbiology major, was accepted the interdisciplinary doctorate program at UC San Francisco. Alicia Skilton will put her mechanical engineering skills to work at Haas Automation.

Among the CSE majors, Danielle Albers is interning at Boston Scientific in Redmond before starting her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin. Alyssa Irwin joined Microsoft's Office team as a software developer. Gary Belvin was accepted into Johns Hopkins master's program in security informatics. Kathryn Winglee, a CSE/microbiology major, is also headed to Johns Hopkins for a doctorate in cellular and molecular medicine. Kathy Wei, recipient of the Dean's Medal from the College of Engineering, will begin doctoral studies in bioengineering at Stanford University.

SG fellow Dave Peters completed his master's in A&A and was hired by SpaceX. He will be flight-qualifying the small rocket engines used for maneuvering the company's Dragon capsule as it delivers supplies to the International Space Station.

Anne Bossi

Anne Bossi at the 2009 UW Undergraduate Research Symposium

Anne Bossi of Seattle University heads to Purdue University this fall for her doctorate in engineering. Last winter, she and her SG research mentors co-authored a paper in The Astronomical Journal on the age and metallicity of the Bootes I dwarf galaxy.

At Central Washington University, SG scholar Travis Petersen was accepted into the doctorate program in applied optics at the University of Rochester. Heather Durkee begins her chemistry doctorate at UW this fall.

SG intern Mahyo Seyedali of Whitworth University was accepted into UW's graduate program in mechanical engineering.


Where are they now?

NASA Academy alum Eric Collins ('02 WSU) completed his UW doctorate in oceanography and astrobiology. He starts a postdoc in astrobiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario this fall.

SG scholar Andrea Jones ('05 UW) completed her master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota and returned to UW as a research study coordinator for a project on cerebrovascular disease.

Annamarie Askren ('06 UW) completed a master's degree in aerospace at California Institute of Technology in 2007 then spent a year teaching in the Marshall Islands. The SG scholar is now working at Blue Origin, where she interned as an undergraduate.

Claire Muerdter ('07 UW) is working as an environmental communications specialist with the Eastern Research Group, Inc. in Washington, DC. The SG scholar's research from her summer on Mount St Helens was recently published in Plant Ecology.

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