NASA Space Consortium Grants to STEM Projects
Funding undergraduate, graduate and faculty projects in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, NASA’s Connecticut Space Grant Consortium has awarded several members of the Fairfield University community funds to pursue projects and research in STEM fields.
Dr. Amanda Harper-Leatherman, associate professor of chemistry, was awarded a $10,000 Faculty Research Grant from the consortium for her project Incorporating Aerogels into Electrochemical Glucose Biosensors.
Joining Dr. Harper-Leatherman to work on her project for eight weeks over the summer are students Lauren Sheard ’19 and Nina Kosciuszek ’17, who have also received awards from the consortium. While Sheard received a summer stipend to fund her work on the project, Kosciuszek was awarded a $5,000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship to contribute to Dr. Harper-Leatherman’s research.
Beyond those working with Dr. Harper-Leatherman are three others who have been awarded grants from the consortium to pursue research of their own. John O’Neill ’18 and Samuel Nguyen ’19 each received $5,000 Undergraduate Student Scholarships for excellent academic performance in STEM majors. Assistant Professor of electrical engineering and CT Space Grant Consortium advisory board member Dr. Ryan Munden received a STEM Educational Programming Grant also worth $5,000 in order to fund his STEM summer camp for middle school students in Bridgeport.
Based on research showing that children’s interest in science is lost by the time they reach middle school, Dr. Munden said his STEM summer camp is designed to reignite young students’ passion for the sciences.
“Our STEM summer camp for Bridgeport middle-schoolers is a great opportunity to inspire children to prepare for college, and specifically to prepare for STEM oriented careers,” he said. “It is very important that we continue to foster excitement for STEM learning at that key developmental point. Our camp is a fun-filled exploration of science topics, hands-on activities and math practice.”
Dr. Munden has already seen children’s excitement growing as a result of the programs offered by his camp.
“I clearly remember the reaction of one young girl in the camp who came to campus last summer, as we were doing a very simple science experiment that I asked them to perform, who, with a huge smile, asked, ‘We actually get to do that ourselves?!,’” he shared. “It was a fantastic feeling seeing her get so excited by science. Thanks to the CT NASA Space Grant, we will be able to offer that experience to more children this summer.”