Students put learning into action through NASA Space Grant Program

space program

A dozen Northern Arizona University students put classroom learning into practice—complete with paid research internships and professional presentations—as part of the Arizona/NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Program.

The NAU undergraduates joined other students from Arizona State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Arizona to formally present their work at the program’s internship symposium at the UA at the end of April.

“The space grant internship program provides real-life, real-research experiences for undergraduates, that they can take forward with them when they graduate,” said Barry Lutz, director of the NAU/NASA Space Grant Program “It’s a real plus for these students to have these experiences on their resume.”

Each student worked with a mentor, either at NAU or off campus, during the year on a research project. The students, their mentors and projects were:

  • Danielle Anderson, junior, mechanical engineering
    Mentor: John Tester, associate professor, mechanical engineering
    “Modeling of Ship-based UAV Helicopter Landing Platform”


  • Michael Barber, senior, environmental science
    Mentor: George Koch, professor, biological sciences
    “Remote Sensing and Dendrochronology of Ponderosa Pine Forests in Relation to Drought Effects in Northern Arizona”


  • Shannon Callahan, senior, mechanical engineering
    Mentor: Jan Theron, research engineer in mechanical engineering
    “Computational Fluid Dynamics Study vs. Experimental Results: Cycloidal Rotor for Hovering Micro Air Vehicles”


  • Tim Calver, senior, physics and astronomy (did not attend symposium, but completed all other requirements)
    Mentor: Sydney Barnes, Lowell Observatory
    “Rotation Periods for Solar and Late-type Stars in the Open Cluster M34”


  • Mike Lafky, senior, physics and astronomy
    Mentor: David Koerner, assistant professor, physics and astronomy
    “Searching for Substellar Binary Companions”


  • Greg Mace, junior, physics and astronomy
    Mentor: Lisa Prato, Lowell Observatory
    “Young Star Disk Evolution in the Planet Formation Epoch”


  • Michelle McMillan, junior, physics and astronomy
    Mentor: Paul Geissler, U.S. Geological Survey
    “Galileo Observations of Volcanic Plumes on Io”


  • Vincent Pinedo, senior, electrical engineering
    Mentor: Jerry Hatfield, associate professor, electrical engineering
    “RCX Augmentation”


  • Robert ConantRobert HoughJad Lutfi and Andrew Prosory, seniors, electrical engineering
    Mentor: Niranjan Venkatraman, assistant professor, electrical engineering
    “ASCEND Balloon Launch Project”