June 25, 2020 | Rachel Erickson

Above, (left to right) Olivia Sessoms, Shayla Chavis and Benjamin Kaiser are three of the 31 graduate and undergraduate students NC Space Grant is supporting for the 2020-21 academic year.

North Carolina Space Grant is excited to announce the recipients of the 2020-21 Undergraduate Research Scholarships and Graduate Research Fellowships. Joining the NC Space Grant family from many different universities across the state, these students will be involved in research spanning different science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields that relate to the aerospace and aviation fields.

The students’ research will address a wide variety of topics, including detecting galaxy groups forming using a 3D optical spectroscopy dataset, designing polymers for more efficient solar cells, and even repairing the pathways in the hippocampus that can lead to seizure vulnerability. This diverse class of Undergraduate Research Scholars will receive the unique experience of applying basic or applied research to aerospace-related studies. While also gaining mentors from the NASA community, students will see the connection between their STEM discipline and a future career in space science.

The Graduate Research Fellows will be diving into topics ranging from the structure of volcanoes on Venus, to detecting debris fields transiting around white dwarf stars or circumbinary planets in large telescope datasets, to how tardigrades can survive in extreme environments. These students will participate in important and applicable research as they work toward future scientific and technological breakthroughs.  

Undergraduate Research Scholars

Emma Bartlett, North Carolina State University, mechanical engineering major: Deployment of Dual Matrix Composite Origami Structures in Zero Gravity

Joel Bernstein, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, physics major: Stellar-Stellar Counterrotation in E/S0 Galaxies in the RESOLVE Survey

Ella Castelloe

Ella Castelloe, UNC-Chapel Hill, astrophysics major: Finding Galaxy Groups in the Early Stages of Formation in the RESOLVE Survey

Charles Cervi, NC State University, mechanical engineering major: Dual Matrix Composite Origami

Shayla Chavis, North Carolina Central University, chemistry major: Design of Boron Subphthalocyanine Functionalized Polymers for Improved Solar Cell Efficiency

Hayden Glenn, Winston-Salem State University, biology major: STEPS – STress Evaluation in PlantS – A Phythormonal Approach

Rebecca Hart, NC State University, mechanical engineering major: Soft Connection Components for Fluidic Artificial Muscle Actuators

Joshua Hilbish, Fayetteville State University, computer science major: Self-Aware Machining and Metrology

Eunice Seo

Finn James, UNC-Chapel Hill, computer science major: A New Test of General Relativity Using Binary Supermassive Black Holes and Radio Telescopes

Jaden Miller, Appalachian State University, applied physics major: The Determination of Elastic Modulus Using Optical Tweezers

Isabel O’Brien, UNC-Chapel Hill, biology major: Telescope Data Acquisition System and OJ-287 Analysis

Eunice Seo, NC State University, mechanical engineering major: Multifunctional Structural Materials for Extreme Space Environments

Olivia Sessoms, East Carolina University, engineering major: Biohydrochemical Computational Modeling of Nitrogen Species Transport in Unsaturated Soils

Jared Tuton, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, biology major: Repair Pathway for Reducing Seizure Vulnerability that Compromises Hippocampal Synapses

Graduate Research Fellows

Derrick Carr

Reece Boston, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, physics major: Effect of General Relativistic Corrections to White Dwarf Pulsations in the K2 Data

Derrick Carr, UNC-Chapel Hill, physics major: Populations and Evolution of Nuggets at Redshift Zero in the RESOLVE Survey

Hank Corbett, UNC-Chapel Hill, physics and astronomy major: Fast Flashes in Tiny Telescopes: A Joint Search for Ultra-Short Duration Astrophysical Transients with Evryscope and the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

Emily Duan, North Carolina State University, mechanical engineering major: Model and Simulation of Elbow-Joint Loads from Earth’s Gravity at Arbitrary Orientations

Nathan Galliher, UNC-Chapel Hill, physics and astronomy major: Chasing Young Star Superflares

Amy Glazier, UNC-Chapel Hill, astronomy major: Variations on an Eclipse II: Evryscope Searches for Circumbinary Planets

Emily Duan

Rebecca Hahn, NC State University, geology major: Quantifying Volcano Morphology on Venus

Richard Hollenbach III, Duke University, mechanical engineering major: Investigation of Unsteady Aerodynamics in Turbofan Aircraft and Turbopump Rocket Engines Exhibiting Nonsynchronous Vibrations

Benjamin Kaiser, UNC-Chapel Hill, astrophysics major: Ancient Exoplanetesimal Compositions and Cosmological Implications

Ian McGregor, NC State University, geospatial analytics major: Near Real-Time Monitoring of Forest Disturbance Using Multi-Source Imagery

Justin Morales, NC State University, mechanical engineering major: Mechanical Properties of Polymer-Derived Ceramics Reinforced with Boron Nitride Nanotubes

Lia Phillips, Appalachian State University, physics major: Automation of Optical Tweezers in Laser Tweezer Raman Spectroscopy Apparatus

Justin Morales

Joshua Reding, UNC-Chapel Hill, physics and astronomy major: The Menagerie of Failed Ia Supernovae

Amanda Smythers, UNC-Chapel Hill, analytical chemistry major: Elucidating Redox-Related Mechanisms of Extremotolerance in Tardigrade Species

Bethany Sutherland, NC State University, atmospheric sciences major: Quantification of the Direct Radiative Effect of Aerosols Using HSRL and Model-Derived Aerosol Types

Joseph Tolsma, NC State University, genetics major: Structural Change to DNA in Simulated Microgravity: Quantifying Changes to Telomeres of Arabidopsis thaliana on a Random Positioning Machine

Alexander Zajda, Duke University, mechanical engineering and materials science major: Phase Change Thermal Storage for Extraterrestrial Exploration, Targeting Energy Optimization and Emergency Survivability

To gain a sense of projects NC Space Grant-supported students have researched in the past, read about the previous class of Undergraduate Scholars and Graduate Fellows here.

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