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Universities Space Research Association Announces Annual Scholarship Award Winners



Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced the winners of the prestigious annual USRA Scholarship Award. USRA awards scholarships to undergraduate students who tackle challenging scientific questions in the areas of space research and exploration, particularly astrophysics and astronomy and create technologies and solutions that will positively impact people's lives.

Selected by a panel of judges well recognized in their respective fields, this competition represents the rigor expected of a science competition. The selection committee consists of university faculty members in science and engineering disciplines from among the top tier universities.

"We at USRA are extremely proud of the students who receive these awards," said Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and CEO, USRA. "They demonstrate outstanding talent, as manifested in work ranging from theoretical basic research to innovative practical applications aimed at solving challenging problems. But it's not just their research that makes them stand out — finalists are also selected based on their leadership potential and initiative. We congratulate these talented students and wish them a brilliant future."

Emily Garhart

Image: Emily Garhart, University of Maryland, accepts her award from research advisor Prof. Drake Deming. Looking on are Prof. Stuart Vogel, Astronomy Department Chair (on far left), and Dr. Melissa Hayes-Gehrke, Astronomy Department Undergraduate Advisor (far right).









The 2016 USRA Scholarship Awards recipients are:

  • Emily Garhart, University of Maryland, Double Major: Astronomy and Physics
    Recipient of a Thomas R. McGetchin Memorial Scholarship
  • Angela Kimber, University of Washington, Major: Chemical Engineering
    Recipient of the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship
  • Charles Law, Harvard University , Double Major: Physics & Astrophysics (astronomy)
    Recipient of the Frederick Tarantino Memorial Scholarship Award
  • Shreyas Vissapragada, Columbia University , Double Major: Astrophysics & Computer Science
    Recipient of the James B. Willett Education Memorial Scholarship
  • Qicheng Zhang, University of California Santa Barbara, Major: Physics
    Recipient of a Thomas R. McGetchin Memorial Scholarship

Fast Facts

  • The USRA Scholarship recipients are from 5 states; 40 percent women and 60 percent men.
  • The 5 finalists were selected from a pool of 59 entrants from 46 different universities. The selection was based on the originality and creativity of their current work, their career interests, as well as their achievement and leadership both inside and outside the classroom.
  • The award winners are from University of Maryland, Columbia University, Harvard University, University of California, Santa Barbara, and University of Washington.
  • Their interests range from planetary science, astrophysics and astrochemistry, astronomy, and chemical engineering.
  • A total of $20,000 in scholarship money will be awarded. The awards are funded by individual contributions and USRA's matching contributions.
  • USRA will present the awards to the students at their various institutions.
  • The scholarship awards were established in memory of:
    • Thomas R. McGetchin, former director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute for his work in volcanic and igneous processes
    • James B. Willett, a noted astrophysicist who worked at USRA through the Jet Propulsion Lab and NASA
    • Frederick Tarantino, USRA President and CEO, 2006-2014, for his dedication to furthering education of young scientists.
    • John R. Sevier, Acting Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and Deputy Director of Space Life Division for his dedication to education and advancements in aerospace technology.


About USRA

Formed in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academies of Science, Universities Space Research Association is an independent non-profit organization that offers an avenue for government and industry to engage the expertise of the academic community with USRA's technical leadership, innovative R&D, operational excellence, management of premier facilities, and education programs to advance space- and aeronautics-related sciences and exploration.