Long-standing partnership provides student research fellowships
Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students who earned research fellowships from the Virginia Space Consortium for the 2021-22 academic year were honored at the annual scholars and fellows luncheon and poster session that the university sponsored earlier this spring.
Virginia Tech has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with the consortium since its inception in 1990. During that time, the consortium has provided 475 scholarship and fellowship awards totaling $2.1 million to Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate student researchers, intended to supplement and enhance research support. For the upcoming 2022-23 academic year, the consortium awarded fellowships to 19 students. Additionally, as part of his civic engagement and community leadership, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands currently chairs the consortium’s board of directors.
At the event, Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui welcomed student researchers from across Virginia to the celebration.
“The consortium's research awards allow students to undertake research of interest to NASA under the guidance of a faculty advisor, which builds on the student’s knowledge and hones research skills,” said Sui. “The consortium has also awarded 67 Virginia Tech student internships at NASA centers totaling more than $350,000, which builds on flight and design experiential learning projects at our university.”
Scott Bailey, professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who directs the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research at Virginia Tech, was the keynote speaker at the event. Bailey, the Bradley Senior Faculty Fellow and an advisor to NASA, shared details of his space weather research and the role students play in the mission of further exploration that benefits the student experience and the aerospace industry and federal government agencies such as NASA.
The Virginia CubeSat Constellation, which began in June 2016, was a collaborative effort between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and four of its member universities — Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, and Hampton University — to develop a three-satellite cubesat constellation. An interdisciplinary team of 50 undergraduate students from the College of Engineering and the College of Science developed Virginia Tech’s CubeSat at the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research and provided students with crucial hands-on mission experience in both spacecraft design and manufacturing, all working together to make the mission a reality. Launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in April 2019, the constellation was deployed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The consortium's graduate research fellowship program promotes graduate STEM-related research while recognizing high academic achievement and promise. During the fellowship, students participate in an active, faculty-mentored STEM-based research experience that aligns with and meets NASA’s mission. Awards are made annually and are renewable for one year for students making satisfactory academic and research progress.
Virginia Tech consortium fellows showcased their research projects in a poster presentation during the event. The fellows and their projects are listed below.
2021-22 graduate fellows
Mechanical engineering master's degree candidate
Research topic: "Investigation of NASA Combustion Scheme under Thermoacoustic Instability"
Physics doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Quasar Outflow Analysis: Extreme Ultraviolet Observations and Beyond"
Aerospace engineering doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Smooth Wall Separation Over Bumps: Benchmark Experiments for CFD Validation"
Engineering mechanics doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Optimizing Spacecraft Trajectory Design in Perturbed Restricted Three-Body Models"
Civil and environmental engineering doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Understanding Reactions of Ozone with Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds in a Forest Canopy"
Biomedical engineering doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Investigating Space Brain: How Do Brain Cells Respond to the Effects of Increased Intracranial Pressure"
Biological sciences doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Cryptic microbes in Antarctica, Determining the Limits of Biotic Detection via Satellite Imagery"
Biological systems engineering doctoral candidate
Research topic: "Investigating Flood-Vegetation Interactions Through Remote Sensing and Modeling"
2021-22 undergraduate fellows
Research topic: "Use of a Modified Skycrane to Explore the Tessera Region of Venus"
Research topic: "Novel Multi-Axis Hybrid (AM/SM) Robotic Manufacturing"
Research topic: "The Ability of a Low-Cost, Wearable Device to Recognize Enhanced Functional States"
Research topic: "Autonomous Robotic Detection of Damage States in Trusses for Lunar and Martian Infrastructure"