Past Award Recipients – Students

Spring 2017 Award Recipients

Graduate Research Fellowship

Sarah Arveson
Yale University
“Immiscibility of Molten Iron Alloys in Planetary Cores”
In this research, melting experiments will be performed on Fe-Si-O to understand the physicochemical properties of core materials. Preliminary measurements reveal that immiscible melts are produced at high pressures, providing evidence for stratification that may have been integral in sustaining a dynamo before inner core formation. These experiments will provide insight into planetary core evolution.

Sonia Chavez
University of Connecticut
“Nanocoatings to Increase the Barrier Properties and Thermal Insulation for Aerospace Applications”
This project will focus on developing a nanocoating with outstanding barrier properties and thermal insulation for aerospace products. To do so, inorganic nanosheets [montmorillonite (MMT)] will be used with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to form a hybrid nanocoating with a highly ordered structure. In addition to PVA, epoxy will be used as an alternative binder to further improve the properties of the substrate and a crosslinking agent will be used to further bond the components through covalent interactions.

Kierstin Daviau
Yale University
“Identifying Exoplanet Interiors from Atmospheric Signals”
This research will investigate the connection between a planet’s interior and atmosphere using high-pressure/temperature experiments on the oxidation reactions between SiC and SiO2, materials proposed to make up carbon-rich exoplanets. Results will be compared to existing and upcoming exoplanetary atmosphere measurements, and frequency bands will be recommended for observation in order to detect a carbon-planet atmosphere.

Jordyn-Marie Dudley
Wesleyan University
“Characterization of Water in Differentiated Achondrite Parent Bodies”
The objective of this study is to determine the water abundance and hydrogen isotopic compositions of 15 achondrite meteorites, characterize their parents bodies, and determine if they provide evidence of a water-rich accretion. Like NASA’s Space Science enterprise, this study aims to generate and communicate knowledge of the evolution of the universe, solar system, planets and anomalous Earth.

Anthony Patelunas
University of Connecticut
“Determination of the Muscle Stem Cell Lineage by Single-cell Transcriptomics”
This project will characterize transcriptional changes of muscle satellite cell progenitors and identify novel markers for activation such as growth factor receptors. Defining development and identifying markers will enable future targeted approaches to activating and maintaining satellite cells in atrophying skeletal muscle.

Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Lauren Atkinson
Eastern Connecticut State University
“Evaluating the Scorpion Microbiome for Diversity and Antibiotic Production”
Scorpions are routinely exposed to potentially deadly microbes since many of their prey are vectors for deadly pathogens. This study aims to test the diversity of the scorpion microbiome and test for antibiotic production by members of the microbiome. The discovery of new antibiotics would benefit the medical community and space exploration, seeing as antibiotic resistance increases under microgravity and human immune systems weaken during missions.

Louis Cappucci
Trinity College
“Ignition Design and Test for a 3-D Printed Titanium Rocket Engine”
This experimental research project will seek to determine the most robust and reliable system of rocket engine ignition, which will be used to build and test a Titanium alloy 3D printed rocket engine. The purpose of this research is to consider several types of ignition methods and to experimentally determine the superior method based on several design consideration.

Lillian Hyde
Eastern Connecticut State University
“Assessment of Microglia Function in Brain and Blood Microenvironments”
This study will assess if microglia activation differs in cerebrospinal fluid compared to fetal bovine serum. By establishing a baseline for microglia function in their native environment, space travel conditions can eventually be tested to asses its affects on the central nervous system.

Celeste Smith and Paula Tartell
Wesleyan University
“The Newberry Volcano Crater Lakes, OR: Analogs for Ancient Planetary Environments?”
Some volcanic lakes bear strong resemblances to early planetary environments. This research will study such a lake at Newberry volcano in Oregon where the local ecosystem is largely provided for by elements provided by the volcano. With the essential nutrients also come volcanic toxins, in this case mercury. The pathways of mercury and CO2 gas from the subaqueous vents and hot springs into the lake will be determined and the effects of toxic mercury will be assessed.

William Tait
University of Connecticut
“Investigation of Hydrate Sodium Carbonate Powders as a Dry Sorbent for CO2, SOx, and NOx”
This project aims to research hydrated sodium carbonate powders (HSCPs), which are a mixture of sodium carbonate and dry water, a powder that is a silica-coated water-air emulsion, as a dry sorbent for carbon dioxide and other gaseous pollutants. The recycling efficiency of HSCPs will also be tested, since being able to recycle the sorbent for reuse would be economically and environmentally friendly.

Dana Wensberg
Trinity College
“Liquid-Fueled Rocket Injector Design for Additive Manufacturing”
This research seeks to develop a fuel injection plate for a liquid bipropellant rocket using additive manufacturing (3D printing). This project will utilize Arcan’s Q20+ machine. The injector must fit to an existing nozzle and set of performance requirements. This research will demonstrate the application of additive technology in high performance rocketry, enhancing NASA’s ability to create more effective components.

Project Grant

Gukyoung An
University of Bridgeport
“CanSat Competition: The Knight Gliders”

Seth Hanson
Central Connecticut State University
“The Implementation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Detection of Radioactivity”

Tyron Hill
Central Connecticut State University
“Multirotor With Multi-Directional Robotic Arm”

Student Travel

Jalal-ud-din Butt
Central Connecticut State University

Jacob Fanthorpe
Wesleyan University

Melissa Luna
Wesleyan University

Undergraduate Scholarship

Ervin Lara
University of Bridgeport

Hetal Patel
University of Connecticut

Kyle Vaccaro
University of Hartford

Kim-Vui Duong
Central Connecticut State University

Ian Waters
Central Connecticut State University

Community College Scholarship

Donna Crane
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Lydia Gjuraj
Norwalk Community College

Michael Koutoumbas
Norwalk Community College

Tahje McClain
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Hector Navarro
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Roger Pappineau
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Donato Piroscafo
Gateway Community College

John Rivera
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Matthew Stromberg
Norwalk Community College

Community College Transfer Scholarship

Giuliano Stabile
University of Connecticut

Summer Internship

Cassidy Atkinson
University of Connecticut

Thomas D’Auria
University of Connecticut

Stephen DeRosa
University of Hartford

Justin Longton
Three Rivers Community College

Jacob Mikullitz
University of Connecticut

Thienly Nguyen
University of Hartford

Levi Reynolds
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Fall 2016 Award Recipients

Community College Scholarship

Josiel Batista
Naugatuck Valley Community College

 Elaina Becher
Quinebaug Valley Community College

Lydia Gjuraj
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Lindsey Japa
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Jody Jarvella
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Donato Piroscafo
Gateway Community College

Levi Reynolds
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Andre Roscoe
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Lanaya Shuler
Naugatuck Valley Community College

William Perry Weingart
Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Community College Transfer Scholarship

Andrew St. Amand
Central Connecticut State University

Emina Hodzic
University of Hartford 

Sarah Kurtz
Fairfield University

Graduate Research Fellowship

Tian McCann
University of Connecticut
“3D Printed Hydrogels for Skeletal Muscle Differentiation for Human iPS Cells”
The effect of 3D printed hydrogels with varying matrix stiffness on the differentiation of human iPS cells towards skeletal muscle will be investigated and an in vitro skeletal muscle culture model will be developed.

Manal Tahhan
University of Connecticut
“Computational Design Method for Skin-Frame Habitats”
A computational method to design lunar habitats made of bars covered by a skin is proposed. The goals for this project are to render feasible designs, implement a length constraint on the bars for packing purposes, and minimize the weight of the structure while maximizing the habitable volume.

Project Grant

Lauren Atkinson
Eastern Connecticut State University
“Evaluating the Scorpion Microbiome for Diversity and Antibiotic Production”

Kevin Bartlett
Central Connecticut State University
“Hybrid Propellant Rocket Engine”

Joseph Dworkin
Trinity College
“A Biomedical Exoskeletal Arm”

Christopher Gutierrez
Fairfield University
“Micro Bioreactor Array for Tissue Engineering Applications”

Evan Haas
Yale University
“Experimental Hybrid Fuel Rocket Engine”

Julia McManus
Fairfield University
“Wear-Free Power Transfer”

Jack Roth
Yale University
“Investigating the Tardigrade and E. Coli via High Altitude Balloon”

David Rutledge
Central Connecticut State University
“Hybrid Propellant Rocket Engine”

Michael Van der Linden
Yale University
“YUAA Cosmic Ray Cubesat”

Student Travel

Lauren Atkinson
Eastern Connecticut State University

Jalal-ud-din Butt
Central Connecticut State University

Kimberly Colavito
University of Hartford

Kevin Connolly
Eastern Connecticut State University

Nina Kosciuszek
Fairfield University

Jeffrey Panko
University of New Haven

Avi Stein
Wesleyan University

Christina Welch
Eastern Connecticut State University

Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Alec Andrulat
University of New Haven
“Developing a Serious Game to Enhance Experiental Education at University of New Haven: Gamifying of the Supply Chain Management Course”
This project aims to integrate gamification concepts into EGRM 6641 Supply Chain Management, a Master’s level course in the Industrial and Systems Engineering program at the University of New Haven.

Hannah Fritze
Wesleyan University
“Searching for Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Ultraluminous X-Ray Binaries”
Star formation information will be gathered for a number of ultraluminous X-ray sources using multi-wavelength spectral and temporal analysis of observations taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The outcome of this project will allow better understanding of the evolution and nature of stellar-mass black holes.

Anna Mercaldi
University of New Haven
“Anti-Bacterial Surfaces for Preventing ‘Sick’ Spacecrafts: Optimizing NO Releasing Polymer Composition for Increased Stability Under Room Temperature Conditions”
The goal of this project is to determine stability effects from first conjugating NO to additives before incorporating the formed complexes, at different percentages into PDMS.

Sophia Sanchez-Maes
Yale University
“Probing the Wavelength Dependence of Stellar Activity Driven Doppler Noise”
By formulating a physical model of spot/faculae related activity, and testing its fit with large and precise dataset similar observations for an activity-quiet star, wavelength-dependence will be investigated.

Dennis Scheglov
University of Connecticut
“Using a Cylindrical Coordinate System to Facilitate Multi-Material 3D Printing”
A proposed device will be able to incorporate multiple materials into a print simultaneously, or print in fewer materials at drastically increased speeds. Based on a cylindrical coordinate system, this method will incorporate the benefits of composite material structures and their properties into its prints.

Undergraduate Scholarship

Dylan Bernard
Central Connecticut State University 

Jalal-ud-din Butt
Central Connecticut State University

Daniel Cataldo
University of Connecticut

Kevin Connolly
Eastern Connecticut State University 

Meagan Ferreira
University of Connecticut

Rami Hamati
Wesleyan University

Ravina Hingorani
Fairfield University 

Christopher Hollaway
Central Connecticut State University

 Alicia Lynn
Central Connecticut State University

David Machado
Wesleyan University

Anthony Mastromarino
University of Hartford

Samuel Nguyen
Fairfield University

Tristan Peirce
Trinity College

Kailey Pisko
Eastern Connecticut State University

Austin Thomas
University of New Haven

Christina Welch
Eastern Connecticut State University

Michael Wright
Fairfield University

Summer 2016 Award Recipients

Helicopter Workshop

Connie Freelove
Housatonic Community College

Rami Hamati
Wesleyan University

Nicholas Saint
Housatonic Community College

Gregory Smith
University of Hartford

William Perry Weingart
Northwestern Connecticut Community College

Industrial/Technical Internship

Jason Alvarez
Naugatuck Valley Community College
Tier One

Wesaam Lepak
University of Hartford
Longman Lindsey

Anthony Mastromarino
University of New Haven
United Technologies Aerospace Systems

Daniel Pappalardo
University of Hartford
United Technologies Research Center

Education Internships

Amy Christensen
University of Connecticut
Connecticut Invention Convention

Bailey Muchin
University of Connecticut
Connecticut Invention Convention

NASA Academy

Jack Stallman
Trinity College

Garrett Taylor
University of Connecticut

Spring 2016 Award Recipients

Community College Quadcopter Challenge

Eric Abell, John Gray, Melanie McFadden, Amy Skrypczak
Quinebaug Valley Community College
QQ (Quinebaug Quadcopter)

John Beane, Joseph Dolan, Maari Lang, Khoa Nguyen, Bibi Rahamatullah
Naugatuck Valley Community College
NV Fly High

Blake Bennett, Brandon D’Agostino, Nichole Dineson, Nicholas Saint, Christopher Torok
Housatonic Community College
Housatonic Flyers

Daniel Fetzner, Lillian Orelup, Pedro Pinales, William Weingart
Northwestern Connecticut Community College
Quad Squad – Team B

Kristen Mallery, Jesse Marek, Michael Pavlik Jeffery Wright
Northwester Connecticut Community College
Quad Squad – Team A

Community College Scholarship

Jason Alvarez
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Ricardo Figueroa, Jr.
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Geoff Rose
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Graduate Research Fellowship

Shaun Mahmood
Wesleyan University
“Characterization of Hydrous Melt Inclusions in Lunar Return Samples”
Water content in the lunar crust and mantle is becoming increasingly important for understanding the early formation processes.  For this study, maps of melt clusions within lunar sample 75055, 50, 75055, 123b (ilmenite basalts) and additional Apollo samples will be created to detect H2O and OH content within these features in preparation for further quantitative analysis.  For this study, SEM imagery and EMPA geochemical maps will be utilized to determine mineralogy of the host grains of these inclusions. Examination of the resulting geochemical data will allow better understanding of the early lunar surface and mantle.

Shawn McGinley
University of New Haven
“A New Method for Early Cancer Diagnosis (Liquid Biopsy)”
The goal of this research will be to test a novel biosensor for the quick and effective diagnosis of cancer cells utilizing the principle of nucleic acid hybridization.  Cancer cells release small RNA containing vesicles that have previously found to be useful in determining whether a patient has cancer through the detection of mutations.  This technology could be very influential in NASA’s future strategic goals due to radiation levels astronauts are periodically exposed to while on missions to space.  This novel biosensor will be extremely useful in the monitoring of astronaut health before, during, and after missions.

Benjamin McKeeby
Wesleyan University
“An Analysis of Hydrothermal Sulfate Formation in St. Lucia Using the Mars 2020 Instrument Suite”
This study will attempt to distinguish between abiotic and biologically mediated sulfate minerals of a Mars Analogue using a combination of Raman spectroscopy techniques in conjunction with SEM and XRD analysis.  Additionally the presence of biosignatures in the form of organic molecules within sulfate minerology will be investigated.  Combining this data with SEM images of the regions will allow for mapping of the distribution of organics throughout the sampled regions.

Lorenzo Sewanan
Yale University
“Dissecting Multiscale Impact of Microgravity Induced Changes on Cardiac Physiology and Function Using Molecularly Detailed Myofilament Model”
This project proposes to examine the effect of preload alterations on the myocardium by extending out molecularly detailed model of myofilament activation to include a thermodynamically consistent model of myosin kinetics, to validate the completed model using high-fidelity data from the literature, and to carry out extensive multiscale simulations to understand how microgravity induced changes in preload may impact fundamental design of efficient experiments and even potentially inform preventative and counter measures to control adverse effects on the heart.

Student Project Grant

Sheila Berna
University of Bridgeport
“CanSat Competition (Team: GliderTron 3000)”

Jessica Durkin
Eastern Connecticut State University
“The Effect of Microgravity on Neuron Viability and Communication”

Student Travel Grant

Sheila Berna
University of Bridgeport
CanSat Competition in Burkett, TX

Katherine Burgos
Eastern Connecticut State University
Society of Developmental Biology

Phillip Carroll
University of Bridgeport
Travel to Palestine, TX

Joshua Hauge
University of Bridgeport
Travel to Fort Sumner, NM for HASP

Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Katherine Burgos
Eastern Connecticut State University
“The Effect of Simulated Microgravity on the Functions of Olfactory Neurons in the Nematode, C. Elegans”
The purpose of this project is to better understand how microgravity affects the nervous system of a living organism. Understanding whether microgravity affects the organism, C. elegans, can potentially help to uncover the specific ways that the function of human neurons are impaired during spaceflight. Moreover, in the long term, it can also contribute to the development of strategies that can reduce the disturbances caused by microgravity and potentially prevent them from affecting humans during spaceflight.

Cerys Holstege
Yale University
“Characterization of Novel Radiation Resistant Microorganisms”
Two recently isolated and previously uncharacterized highly UV-C resistant microorganisms, Hymenobacter sp. and Geodermatophilus sp., were studied in a lab at NASA Ames Research Center.  Exposure experiments were followed by RAPD analysis, a PCR reaction that allows the visualization of DNA breaks and their repair over time, and thymine dimer detection with immunoblotting, which allowed the quantification of the number of thymine dimers in exposed DNA. 

Nina Kosciuszek
Fairfield University
“Incorporating Aerogels Into Electrochemical Glucose Biosensors”
Procedures were developed to synthesize glucose oxidase encapsulated aerogels to use in glucose sensing electrochemical biosensors in order to systematically determine if the aerogel’s high porosity and surface area would enhance the performance of these sensors. The team hoped this research would increase understanding of how porosity and surface area affects glucose biosensing with the long-term goal of improving biosensors for other clinically or environmentally relevant targets including any relevant to human activity in space.

Hanna Morales
Wesleyan University
“Syntheses of Flourinated Trehalose to Test Their Impact on Protein Stability”
The goal of this research is to determine the effect that fluorination will have on the osmolyte properties exhibited by trehalose, since fluorination of sugars has previously shown to enhance protein-carbohydrate affinity (N’Go, 2014, Chemistry). Two difluorinated derivatives, 6,6’-dideoxy-6,6’-difluorotrehalose and 4,4’-dideoxy-4,4’-difluorotrehalose, are the focus of this research, paying careful attention to the mechanism by which they interact with water, how the fluorine atoms affect this interaction, and how a protein’s structure and behavior change as a result of the fluorinated compound’s presence.

Undergraduate Scholarship

Courtney Driscoll
Trinity College

Kim-Vui Duong
Central Connecticut State University

Alicia Lynn
Central Connecticut State University

Samuel Nguyen
Fairfield University

John O’Neill
Fairfield University

Tristan Peirce
Trinity College

Fall 2015 Award Recipients

Community College Scholarship

Itania Lamarre
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Jonathan Stanford
Naugatuck Valley Community College

Graduate Research Fellowship

Alan Shen
University of Connecticut
“Additive Manufacturing of Flexible Sensors”
The ink rheology and particle size that best suits micro-dispensing direct write applications were tested using a novel design for displacement sensing technology, optimized ink formulation analysis, and a new angle for additive manufacturing process control: line-to-line spacing. The process strives for accurate printed resistance accuracy and involves in-situ aligning conducting and insulating inks to generate the circuit. Also conducted were electrical tests to compare the resistance between commercial resistor devices and micro-dispensing printed resistor devices.

Student Project Grant

Andrew Arkebauer
Yale University
“High Performance UAV”

Brian Beitler
Yale University
“Sky Metagenomics Rocket Project”

Jalal-ud-din Butt
Central Connecticut State University
“CCSU NASA Rover Challenge Team”

Leonard Cannon
Central Connecticut State University
“Space Frame Optimization for Rapid Prototyping”

Sandra Diaz
Central Connecticut State University
“Solar Powered RC Plane”

Noel Laflamme
Fairfield University
“Table-Top Micro Patterning Device”

Betsy Li
Yale University
“Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association CubeSat”

Dominic Miceli
Central Connecticut State University
“CCSU NASA Rover Challenge Team”

Scott Smith
Yale University
“Automated Optical Telescope for Astrophotography and Outreach”

Kelly Woods
Southern Connecticut State University
“Carbon Nanotube Synthesis From Block Copolymer Deposited Catalyst”

Ian Wooley
Yale University
“Yale Undergraduate Rover Association (YURA)”

Student Travel Grant

Melissa Lowe
Wesleyan University
47th Lunar & Planetary Science Conference

Dominic Miceli
Central Connecticut State University
NASA Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

Jesse Tarnas
Wesleyan University
American Geophysical Union and American Astronomical Society Meetings

Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Rachel Aronow
Wesleyan University
“Planet Formation and Stellar Characteristics in Tatooine-Like Systems”
KH 15D consists of two young stars in orbit about their common center of mass, enclosed by a disk of gas and dust that undergoes precession. This project had two main branches of study, the first of which was continuing to study the system in optical and near-infrared light. The second goal of the project was to try and detect KH 15D using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), a radio interferometer located in Chile.

Caitlin Hansen
Southern Connecticut State University
“Determination of Nanoparticle Size Distributions to Investigate Sameness”
This project aimed to create a method to automate or semi-automate the size measurements of nanoparticles in images taken with a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM).  The overall purpose of this study was to use image processing methods to reduce the error associated with manually measuring particle sizes.

Fiona O’Donnell
University of Connecticut
“Analysis of Lunar Habitats”
This research project analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of current proposed design concepts of lunar habitats in terms of structural safety, and feasibility of transport and construction. The first phase of this research project was to identify the constraints on the design of lunar habitats as well as currently proposed designs for lunar habitats. A review of the scientific literature on lunar habitats including design constraints, feasible materials, and proposed structures has been performed to evaluate existing lunar structural designs and to identify a design that will best meet these requirements.

Tristan Peirce
Trinity College
“Analyzing the Dynamics of Highly Turbulent, Interacting, Bluff Body Flames”
The key focus of this work will be an investigation of the turbulent flow field in which interacting turbulent flames reside. Detailed comparisons between the single and multiple bluff-body flow fields to analyze the flow field modifications that the adjacent flows introduce will be performed. Understanding flame interaction will have important consequences towards NASA’s mission to develop next-generation high performance engines.

Jeffrey Panko
University of New Haven
“High Velocity Atmospheric Deceleration Devices: CFD Simulations of Parachutes and Ballutes”
This research intends to model deceleration devices, specifically, parachutes and ballutes, in order to provide data into the optimal design and flight characteristics which exceed the performance of current devices.  Through utilization of modern Computational Fluid Dynamics software, research will be conducted towards determining the effects of ballute features, such as seams, ram air inlets, and varying body shapes, on global and local flow around rigid geometries to provide design insights as to which produce optimal coefficients of drag. Said research will aid in the production of systems that allow the exploration, development, and research of space alongside relevant technologies.

Dana Wensberg
Trinity College
“Real Time Cardiovascular Monitor Employing a Digital Stethoscope”
The goal of this research was to create a reliable and comprehensive heart monitor that operated via wireless communication between a main console (responsible for processing) and the device capturing and sending heart sound data – acting as a real time cardiovascular monitor employing a digital stethoscope.

Undergraduate Scholarship

Benjamin Bartolome
Yale University

Phillip Carroll
University of Bridgeport

Daniel Cataldo
University of Connecticut

Aylin Garcia-Soto
Wesleyan University

Joshua Hauge
University of Bridgeport

Jessica Johnson
Central Connecticut State University

Paul Klaucke
Southern Connecticut State University

Anthony Mastromarino
University of New Haven

Jacob Mevorach
Trinity College

Daniel Pappalardo
University of Hartford

Garrett Sullivan
Southern Connecticut State University

Luis Mauricio Uyaguari
Trinity College