Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts

Astronaut Scholar Spotlights

Astronaut Scholars are immersed in nearly every frontier of science, engineering, and technology as astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers in practically every discipline, inventors, consultants, entrepreneurs who have started technology companies, professors at top institutions, and military officers.

In these positions they have launched payloads into space, studied distant galaxies through the Hubble Space Telescope, worked on the Mars Rover missions, trained astronauts, researched alternative energy devices, investigated integrated circuit manufacturing, developed more efficient equipment for firefighters, produced new ways to cultivate agriculture, developed noise control devices, researched the basis of congenital heart disease, mentored future scientists and engineers, and so much more!

Support these and future scholars.

2014 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala Scholar Keynote

Lafleur - Gala 2014

During the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala festivities on May 2, 2014, Jarret Lafleur, a 2005-2007 Astronaut Scholar, gave a keynote speech sharing his thoughts and story with the 400 guests in attendance. The following is Jarret’s address, in full: Ladies and Gentlemen, Astronauts, Distinguished Guests, and Space Exploration Enthusiasts: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to join us for dinner beneath this ridiculously large rocket. My name is Jarret Lafleur, and I am proud to say I am an alumnus of the Astronaut Scholarship program that you all have supported just …

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2013 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala Scholar Keynote

Astronaut Scholar Daniel Araya speaks during 2013 AHOF Gala

During the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala festivities on April 19, 2013, Daniel Araya, a 2007-2008 Astronaut Scholar, took the stage to share his thoughts and his story with the more than 450 guests in attendance. The following is Daniel’s address, in full: I feel very privileged to be here tonight. I have such tremendous respect for the collective achievements of the people in this room. So I’m very grateful for this opportunity to share with you my story and hopefully convince you that your money was well spent. I received the Astronaut Scholarship five years ago while …

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Scholar Spotlight: Christine Morrison

Astronaut Scholar Christine Morrison

Astronaut Scholar Christine Morrison received the Astronaut Scholarship award just before her senior year at the University of Michigan. She graduated in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with highest honors. After graduating, Morrison was met with almost immediate additional success. First, she published a section of her undergraduate thesis in an academic journal. Then, she embarked on a year-long research program at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. Morrison spent her Fulbright year doing chemistry research full-time. As a result, she went on to write and publish two original academic papers and …

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Scholar Spotlight: Derek Lang

DC-X/A Launch (Courtesy of NASA)

Derek Lang, 1996-1997 Astronaut Scholar, continues to work as a consultant with the Stramler Group.  Lang graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in aerospace engineering. His latest project was helping to build and test the Echostar-16 communications satellite, which will broadcast satellite-to-home programming for DISH Network.  The next step is to take the spacecraft out to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where it will be launched on a Russian Proton M/Breeze M rocket. Making use of the PhD that ASF supported him through, Derek got his feet wet teaching an undergraduate class on Aerospace Flight Mechanics at …

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Scholar Spotlight: Joy Buolamwini


Astronaut Scholar Joy Buolamwini received the Astronaut Scholarship award while earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology. Since becoming an Astronaut Scholar, she worked with Yahoo, and alongside Google to develop mobile applications to record personal health information and increase responsiveness to warning signs of illnesses. After receiving her first award, Buolamwini became a Carter Center technical consultant to aide in the eradication of trachoma, an infectious disease that leads to blindness and affects 80 million people worldwide. She also represented the United States in a global student innovation competition in Hong Kong, and worked …

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Scholar Spotlight: Ryan East


Astronaut Scholar Ryan East received the Astronaut Scholarship award while earning his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Oklahoma from 2006-2008. He then went on to earn a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas. Today, East is living his dream working in Mission Control at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX as a Trajectory Analyst for the International Space Station (ISS) and is training to become a Trajectory Operations Officer. His job involves knowing where the ISS is located in orbit, where it will be in future, and defending …

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Scholar Spotlight: Patrick Biltgen


Astronaut Scholar Patrick Biltgen received the Astronaut Scholarship award while earning his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology from 2001-2003. He continued at Georgia Tech obtaining a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. Today, Biltgen serves as a Senior Architect at BAE Systems in Reston, VA. His work concentrates on developing supreme programs which provide high-tech intelligence support to the US military by interacting with government sponsors and offering advanced IT solutions that address important mission needs. Biltgen’s new approach has been recognized as revolutionary by senior leadership at BAE, and was recently saluted with …

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Scholar Spotlight: Joseph Han


Astronaut Scholar Joseph Han (Texas A&M University 1999-2000) is enabling research in simulation and modeling through high-performance computing (HPC) – combining the power of hundreds, even thousands of regular computers to solve previously intractable problems. At Penguin Computing, Han guides the company into areas where technology and science intersect to provide the greatest impact. This work is a continuation of previous research where Han used Beowulf clusters to perform ab initio quantum chemical simulations of industrial processes such as thermal chlorination for Dow Chemical, heterogeneous catalysis for stereo-specific polymerization, and Atomic Layer Deposition for semiconductor process manufacturing at Intel. Recent …

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Scholar Spotlight: Belinda Shreckengost


Astronaut Scholar Belinda Shreckengost (Harvey Mudd College 1999 – 2000) is putting her love of space exploration to the test in the name of planet Earth. The Harvey Mudd alumnus is working as a Thermal Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in Astronautics at the University of Southern California. Through her work, Shreckengost hopes to help society gain a better understanding of Earth in order to take care of our environment. Shreckengost recently concluded thermal vacuum testing to qualify hardware for flight on a project called Juno, which will launch in 2011 to study …

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Scholar Spotlight: Joel Odom


Astronaut Scholar Joel Odom (GA Tech 1996 – 1997) is mapping out a successful future in software research. The Georgia Tech alumnus is serving his sixth year as a faculty member at his alma mater and simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in Information Security. His goal: to create a digital model of the world for the U.S. military to use in defense mission planning. Odom has led several research efforts on FalconView, the computer-based mapping application initially developed by Georgia Tech in 1990 and used today by the U.S. Department of Defense. It analyzes and displays geographical figures which are …

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Scholar Spotlight: Daniel Araya


Studying rocket science isn’t the only thing that concerns 2007-2008 Astronaut Scholar Daniel Araya; he is strongly dedicated to sharing the power of knowledge with younger generations. Juggling graduate school, space propulsion research, and his volunteer work teaching underprivileged children in Africa, the Texas A&M University student has quite a bit on his plate. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in December of 2008, Araya, having lived in Texas all his life, decided it was time to venture out across the globe to experience the “real world.” Destination: a small village just outside of Arusha, Tanzania. Spending four …

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Scholar Spotlight: Scholars Give Back!


Fueled by their appreciation for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), the Astronaut Scholars have “given back” by donating their own personal funds to sponsor one full scholarship! Initiated by fellow ASF Board Member/Astronaut Scholar, Lisa Schott, the Astronaut Scholars “Give Back” program raised over $10,000 for the upcoming year. The scholar donations rolled in selflessly, including an anonymous $5,000 donation! The Scholars who donated to the cause include: Patrick Biltgen, Jessica Blomberg, Greg Book, Larry Bradley, Ryan East, Ashley Ewh, Debora Fairbrother, Simon Gharibian, Jayleen Guttromson, Christina Hammock, Joseph Han, John Hofferberth, Timothy Jackson, Trent Kingery, Tom Krizanosky, Joseph Kummer, …

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Scholar Spotlight: Jarret Lafleur


From researching Mars atmospheric entry trajectories, to developing new spacecraft technology, to jet-setting around the country presenting his work, 2005-2007 Astronaut Scholar Jarret Lafleur keeps his head above the clouds! As a Georgia Tech graduate student, Lafleur participated in a co-op at NASA’s Johnson Space Center over the summer analyzing options for entry into Mars’ atmosphere, and developing new methods for selecting trajectories for descent to the surface of the Moon or Mars. For the past year, Lafleur has been back at his alma mater contributing to an industry team led by Orbital Sciences on a project sponsored by the …

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Scholar Spotlight: Larry Bradley


Astronaut Scholar Larry Bradley of the Johns Hopkins University led an international team of astronomers credited for discovering the most distant galaxy ever observed. The galaxy dates to 13 billion years ago, when the Universe was just 700 million years old. Bradley and his colleagues uncovered the distant galaxy by pointing the Hubble Space Telescope at a nearby massive cluster of galaxies. The galaxy cluster, whose mass is about a thousand times that of the Milky Way, worked as a gravitational lens magnifying the light from the more distant galaxy behind it. The Hubble images provide the most detailed look …

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Scholar Spotlight: Derek Lang


As the world watches the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, Astronaut Scholar Derek Lang can proudly sit back knowing that his project at the Stramler Group launched a satellite to broadcast direct satellite-to-mobile hand set television services during the games. Lang, a Senior Engineering Consultant with the aerospace consulting firm Stramler, provides in-factory monitoring for customers who are procuring communication satellites. Before working in his current job Lang held a position at TGV Rockets and helped complete preliminary vehicle design and analysis for a rocket that could be transported and operated within a few days of demand anywhere around …

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Scholar Spotlight: Trent Kingery


Astronaut Scholar Captain Trent Kingery was deployed in January 2006 for seven months to Al Asad, Iraq for his second combat tour with the United States Navy. During this deployment, he flew 354 combat hours and 113 combat sorties while providing “on-call” Close Air Support to ground forces. In June 2006, he surpassed the 1,000 FA-18 flight hour mark. Upon returning from his combat deployment in late August, Kingery accepted orders to become a member of the acquisition community at NAVAIR, Patuxent River, Maryland. Trent was assigned to the V-22 Program Office. He is currently pursuing Level I certification in …

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