06:08 AM

Next Degree Student Featured in National Magazine: Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology's "40 Under 40"

A Next Degree student at USRA's Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR) has received national recognition for work performed at the Idaho National Laboratory. Jorge Navarro, a candidate for a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, was recently named as one of Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology's '40 under 40: Rising Stars in STEM.'

Navarro, 31, first arrived in Idaho Falls as a CSNR Summer Fellow in 2008. The Summer Fellows program annually holds a nationwide competition for students to attend an intense, ten week effort researching feasibility of advanced technologies. This experience convinced him to apply for the Next Degree program, which allows students at the Idaho State University or University of Idaho extension campuses to work ½ time for the CSNR while simultaneously pursuing their Master's or Ph.D. In the years since, Navarro said he has had many memorable experiences with USRA, including presenting his research in several conferences throughout the U.S. and Europe.

'Every day I am able to work with people who are the best at what they do and are willing to teach me,' Navarro said. 'Another memorable experience [I have had] was being part of a team that won a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts grant.'

Before joining CSNR, Navarro worked as a computer data capture analyst in his native country of Mexico. He studied mining engineering at the University of Guanajuato but soon transferred to the University of Utah to study chemical engineering. After receiving his bachelor's, he entered the nuclear engineering graduate program to pursue his Ph.D. He became an American citizen in 2009.

'Jorge's experience is a prime example of what USRA hopes to provide students in all of our workforce development programs,' said CSNR Director Dr. Steven Howe. 'In addition to affording the students access to hands-on research and game-changing technology, we envision the Next Degree program as a means to propel them to the forefront of the research and development community as the new face of scientific innovation. I expect we will continue to hear great things out of Mr. Navarro, as well as out of the other research fellows in our program.'

Navarro believes that there is no one person or thing that has influenced his career choices; instead, he attributes his success to his family, professors and other mentors who have given him advice and support. To anybody interested in the Next Degree program, he offers his own experiences as encouragement.

'Apply. You will never regret it. The type of research that is being done at the CSNR and USRA is not only cutting edge, it is also a lot of fun,' he said. 'Most importantly, the people that work here will encourage you to think outside the box and are always willing to help you in any way possible.'

Established in 2005, the Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR), located in Idaho Falls, ID, is operated by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The CSNR provides a platform for university research scientists to collaborate with their counterparts at NASA, INL, and other DOE labs encouraging R&D for advanced space nuclear systems, power and propulsion systems, and radioisotope power generators to advance nuclear technologies for space exploration and other space applications.

Founded in 1969, USRA is an independent research corporation with competencies that span space, Earth, and life sciences related disciplines, which are closely aligned with the nation's science and national security agencies. As a non-profit corporation with 105 major research university members, USRA's scientific and technical staff collaborate with over 400 universities annually. This depth of reach into the research community provides a unique platform for advancing science and technology.