Faculty, Students Win Research Support from NASA’s CT Space Grant Consortium

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

Two faculty members and three students have been awarded grants in the latest call for proposals from NASA’s Connecticut Space Grant Consortium.

Jim Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, professor of integrative sciences, were awarded $8,000 for a Faculty Collaboration Grant titled “Chondrule Formation Experiments.” This is to run high-temperature experiments on material that makes up meteorites in order to test a hypothesis that they put forward in a recent paper in Icarus this year.

Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, associate professor of integrative sciences, was awarded $1,500 for a STEM Education Programming Grant titled “A Public Lecture on Astronomy at Wesleyan University.” This is to provide additional funds for this year’s Sturm Lecture, featuring Mae Jemison, a former astronaut.

Hanna Morales ’17, a chemistry major, was awarded $5,000 for an Undergraduate Research Fellowship Grant titled “Synthesis of fluorinated trehalose to test their impact on protein stability.” This work will support her undergraduate research into molecules that aid in surviving extreme environmental conditions, particularly for so-called extremophiles. She is working with Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of environmental studies, assistant professor of integrative sciences.

Ben McKeeby, a graduate student in earth and environmental sciences, was awarded $8,000 for a Graduate Research Fellowship Grant titled “An Analysis of Hydrothermal Sulfate Formation in St. Lucia Using the Mars 2020 Instrument Suite.” This is to support his graduate research with Greenwood on evaluating Earth rocks that are thought to be analogous to Martian rocks to be able to assess sulfate mineralogy that is biologically mediated.

Shaun Mahmood, a graduate student in earth and environmental sciences, was awarded $8,000 for a Graduate Research Fellowship Grant titled, “Characterization of Hydrous Melt Inclusions in Lunar Return Samples.” This is to support his graduate research—also with Greenwood—on looking for water in moon rocks.

Read about other recent past Connecticut Space Grant Consortium awards here and here.