MSGC 2023-2024 Award Recipients

The tables below show all the MSGC award recipients for 2023-2024.

Faculty Led Fellowships for Undergraduates

Akhmatdinov, SergeiWestern Michigan UniversityDevelopment of Highly Sensitive Pressure Sensors with Hybrid Structure for E-Skin and Soft-Robotic ApplicationsHuman sensory system has five senses and there are five organs that form our sensory receptions: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Although the skin is considered to be the largest receptor in our body, helping with identifying the surrounding environment, sense of touch is less studied, at least compared to the sight and the hearing. This work proposes a multi-layered pressure sensor - inspired by the biological structure of the human skin - that can resemble the functionality of the skin by detecting various pressure ranges experienced from a gentle touch to a tight gripping. Flexible materials, thin substrates, and printing processes will be used to achieve tactile sensors that can bend, stretch and conform to other surfaces, similar to the human skin. This research will improve the sensory systems used in multiple areas such as robotic, medical, and space-related applications, where force measurements are critically important.
Al-Allaf, BassmaOakland UniversityDesigning Metallodrugs: 1,5-Benzodiazepines Ruthenium ComplexesBenzodiazepines are heterocyclic compounds that are often prescribed to treat anxiety, epilepsy, and insomnia. Due to their varied structural features, these compounds offer different types of chemical and biological properties. Benzodiazepines are the most used as an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Many studies have been performed on 1,4-benzodiazapine, and very few on 1,5-benzodiazepine, which have a different designation due to the different arrangement of nitrogen positions. The 1,5 arrangement is proven to have minimal effects on cognitive impairments. Furthermore, these benzodiazepines can serve potentially as chelating ligands for metal cations. 1,4-benzodiazapine metal complexes have been previously synthesized with transition metals. In this experimental proposal I will be pursuing synthesis of novel 1,5- benzodiazepines that would serve as coordination ligands for the transition metals such as ruthenium, to produce new compounds with potential medicinal applications – metallo drugs. Initially I plan to investigate the metal interactions and coordination with before mentioned 1,5-benzodiazepines.
Alexopoulos, ChristopherOakland UniversityElectrochemical sensor for monitoring immunological function during space travelDecreasing reliance on the Earth is a necessary step to advance long-term space travel. The logistics required to resupply and communicate with astronauts in spaceflight becomes increasingly difficult and expensive as space travel ventures further into space. Currently, there are limited on-board diagnostic tools available and biological samples taken during spaceflight are often analyzed on Earth. As a result, real-time data collection on the physiological well-being of astronauts is not feasible without communication to Earth. The goal of this research is to design an electrochemistry-based sensor capable of monitoring key biomarkers of immunological function. This point of care sensor will enable real-time data collection for astronauts and allow for informed decision-making during long-term space travel. Additionally, it will promote further independence from Earth by allowing samples to be analyzed during spaceflight itself.
Beaudoin, SionaSaginaw Valley State UniversityInvestigating Channel State Information as a secondary authentication method in smartphonesSecurity and the evolution of user authentication is ever changing, as new means of authentication continue to emerge. In a wireless communication system, the Channel State Information (CSI) represents the different multi-path components of the transmitted signal from the transmitter to the receiver. In this proposal, I investigate the possibility of using the CSI data as a secondary authentication mechanism for smartphone devices. Under the guidance of Dr. Avishek Mukherjee, I plan to design and evaluate AuthCSI - an algorithm for user authentication using CSI measurements. The key idea is that users will create a personalized pattern in the air using a smartphone, and the changes in the wireless channel can be analyzed to authenticate the user. If successful, this can lead to a novel authentication system, that is low-cost and is complementary to other authentication methods that are in use today.
Bergstrom, JacobHope CollegeThe impact of aerosolized iron oxide nanoparticle exposure on the foraging behavior of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus).Increased urbanization poses a threat to avian viability due to the introduction of air pollutants. Metallic nanoparticles, a component of particulate matter, can invade the bloodstream and brain and alter personality, or an animal’s set of repeated behaviors. Zinc oxide nanoparticle exposed chicks showed lowered antipredator behavior, and silver injected mice showed lowered movement time. Although urban birds showed decreased exploratory and risk-taking behavior, both of which are critical to reproductive fitness, it is unclear if this is due to environmental demand or cognitive changes from air pollution exposure. Thus, this project will examine the effects of iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs), as they are very abundant in cities, on the risk taking and exploratory behavior of house sparrows (Passer domesticus), as they occupy environments all across the urbanization gradient. In a novel-environment foraging test, we predict increased risk-taking, as measured by initial foraging latency, and decreased exploratory behavior.
Cardoza, EllaMichigan State UniversityHigh Pressure MicrobiologyThe study of ocean worlds is an important target for astrobiological exploration. A combination of unique conditions make Jupiter’s moon Europa one of the sites with the highest potential to support, spurring NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. Studying ocean worlds is difficult due to the inability to directly access ocean samples, relying upon solutes frozen intro fractures in its icy shell. A challenge of potential life in these systems are hydrostatic pressures, which can mirror and exceed those found in Earth’s oceans. Understanding how life adapts to high hydrostatic pressures, and the unique compounds it produces (i.e. biosignatures) may be crucial to finding life outside Earth. This study will locate proteins utilized by hydrothermal vent microorganisms under high pressure and identify links between biochemical pathways and metabolites. The potential biosignatures will be compared to the instrumental capabilities of current and ongoing missions to the outer solar system.
Denning, NathanMichigan State UniversityExploring the Constructability of Using Lunar and Martian Regolith Simulants for Sustainable Infrastructure on the Moon and MarsNASA has the key strategic plans and priorities of establishing a sustained presence on the Moon and Mars through safe and reliable infrastructure on their surfaces. One goal of these investments is to identify and utilize the available resources on the Moon and Mars to construct space-based infrastructure. To meet this goal, we have performed preliminary experimental characterizations to understand the basic properties of these stimulants, such as surface features, particle size analysis (~100 µm), reactivity, and mechanical properties when mixed with ordinary Portland cement (OPC). We have discovered that the stimulants, in the current situation, are mostly unreactive, and could negatively impact the composite’s compressive strength. To further explore and improve the constructability of these materials, we propose three different special treatment for the materials to improve the reactivity and mechanical properties. We will also try to maximize the use of the materials in space construction.
DeWitt, SkylarHope CollegeOlfactory-Mediated Behavior following Acute Hypoxia in ZebrafishThis research project will study the effects of hypoxia on olfactory-mediated behavior in zebrafish. Hypoxia, a lack of adequate oxygen, is experienced by astronauts during space travel since they are subjected to low levels of oxygen. This study will advance the understanding of the effects of hypoxia on neurological functioning. Specifically, we will gain an understanding of olfactory function following oxygen depletion. We hypothesize that alongside structural degeneration of the olfactory system following hypoxia, the ability to recognize and respond to relevant odorant stimuli will be impaired. This project responds to objective 1.1 of NASA’s strategic interests as it provides a scientific background on olfactory-mediated behavior that aids in studying problems of human health during missions. An expected outcome of this research would be an increased understanding of the effects of oxygen deprivation on olfactory function.
DOGDU, HakanWestern Michigan UniversityFlexible Graphene Based Lithium-Ion Battery with High Specific Energy for Fast Charging ApplicationsRapid growth of modern wearable devices and appliances in recent years has increased the demand for flexible and conformable energy storage systems and rechargeable batteries with high energy densities and specific capacities. Among the different energy storage devices, lithium-ion batteries (LIB) constitute to >95% of the global battery market and have been showcased as a promising solution to deliver the power required for applications in the emerging field of flexible hybrid electronics. In order to enhance the speed of fabrication and obtain flexible electrodes for making thinner and lighter LIBs, emerging manufacturing techniques such as screen printing, laser patterning, aerosol jet printing, and gravure printing are currently being researched. This project focuses on developing a flexible and thin LIB using novel materials that increase the battery capacity, and creating secondary pore networks (SPNs) using a reliable fabrication method to obtain fast charging capability at 4C charging rate (<15 minutes).
Dykstra, NaomiCalvin UniversityEnvironmental benefits of green infrastructure in a local watershedPlaster Creek Stewards (PCS) is a watershed restoration initiative at Calvin University focused on restoring Plaster Creek, the most contaminated waterway in West Michigan. I will serve as the lead research assistant on two PCS research projects designed to quantify the environmental benefit of two different green infrastructure projects - a riparian forest restoration and urban curb-cut rain gardens. The tree project will identify which native trees are best to use in riparian restoration projects. Research outcomes will provide important information for which native trees are best at discouraging the invasive Reed Canary Grass and which trees are most efficient at transpiring stormwater runoff. The urban biodiversity project will demonstrate the benefits of urban curb-cut rain gardens in bringing back native biodiversity. This study will reveal which insect and bird species benefit from these urban plantings as well as the diversity of these native species.
Figueroa, NicholasHope CollegeSynthesis of Fe3O4 - TiO2 nanoclusters for water purificationMany developing countries around the world are currently faced with microbial contamination in their drinking water. This contamination has led to a vast number of individuals afflicted with microbial related disease. Previous studies have shown the capability of TiO2 nanoparticles to decontaminate microbial contaminated water samples due to their ability to release reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to UV light. Previously, the nanoGoch group was focused on the development of a sustainable filter using Fe3O4 clusters of nanoparticles for water remediation of arsenic. Having been successful in this endeavor, the group is now focused on the development of a bimetal oxide cluster of nanoparticles capable of removing arsenic as well as other contaminants from water sources. This research intends to design and develop clusters of TiO2 nanoparticles that may be used in a sustainable filter containing TiO2/Fe3O4 clusters of nanoparticles for water remediation of microbial contaminants and arsenic.
Goldsmith, CalvinOakland UniversitySelf-Assembly of pyridyl-coinage Metallomacrocycle: New Directions in Molecular ElectronicsOrganic compounds that contain consecutive carbon–carbon bonds are classified as 𝜋–conjugated molecules. These compounds have recently emerged as functional materials in the field of molecular electronics to attain lightweight, cost effective, and energy efficient materials. This class of compounds exploit their pi conjugated networks as molecular conductors for applications in dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC), Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), luminescent biomarkers, and many more uses that are currently being developed. Herein, we utilize a more advanced 𝜋–conjugated structure–naphthodithiophene (NDT), which is a fully conjugated and robust thiophene based monomer, which has been selected due to thiophene's versatility as a functional molecule in organic electronics. Our objective is to advance the structure of NDT by integrating it as our core building block in the construction of self-assembling, pi conjugated, coinage metal (copper, silver, and gold) macrocycles. These robust architectures will facilitate higher energy efficiency in OLEDs and DSSC.
Hallemann, PeytonHope CollegeThe Association between Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Exposure and Auditory Physiology in the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)The rise in global urbanization has significant environmental impacts with the potential to cause physiological changes in wildlife. Urban animals are exposed to a variety of stressors, including noise and light pollution, which require new adaptations. This study examines the auditory processing and chronic stress levels between rural and urban house sparrows to investigate the correlation between the stress hormone corticosterone and hearing ability across a defined urbanization gradient. Blood samples will be analyzed from birds collected from rural, suburban, and urban locations throughout West Michigan to obtain both baseline and elevated corticosterone concentrations. Auditory brainstem response tests (ABR) will be performed to measure auditory sensitivity. We predict that birds collected from urban areas will have 1) lower hearing thresholds (i.e. elevated auditory sensitivity) due to adaptations resulting from a noisier environment, and 2) a chronic increase in corticosterone levels due to increased exposure of anthropogenic stressors.
Hinman, MadisonGrand Valley State UniversityInvestigation into Pressure Transmission Through Vitreous Humor to the RetinaOn long-term missions aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronauts noticed decreased vision. This observation led to the discovery of Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS), for which the root cause is unknown. The pressure transmission from the front of the eye to the retina is not completely understood and could be more complex in space. Therefore, the proposed research will investigate pressure transmission through the eye for varying vitreous fluid viscosities and eye sizes. Both the factors will be tested at known low, medium, and high values resulting in a three-squared full-factorial design. Gaining this knowledge will contribute to NASA’s understanding of space-induced impacts on vision and Strategic Goal 1. Astronauts’ safety will also improve, accomplishing Strategic Goal 3. Moreover, people on Earth afflicted with vision issues related to increased eye pressure – such as glaucoma – will benefit from research on pressure transmission through the eye, fulfilling Strategic Goal 2.
Luchs, JiaCalvin UniversityGreen Team - Ecological Restoration of Plaster CreekThe Plaster Creek Stewards’ (PCS) Green Team program educates high school youth about their watershed by focusing on native plants, environmental justice issues, and the role of green infrastructure in stormwater management while training participants to develop job skills for installing and maintaining green infrastructure. The 2023 Green Team program will give 20 high school students an opportunity to understand and participate in research opportunities at the collegiate level as well as actively engage in watershed restoration. Participating students learn about each other’s diverse cultures, passions, and backgrounds that encompass who they are. I will serve as the college student leader and employ educational research and social science methods to evaluate the impact of the program on student learning.
Nelson, JustinWayne State UniversityDevelopment of Self-healing Polymer CompositesThe damage formation in materials is inevitable during operation of a spacecraft, such as caused by ballistic impact with a micrometeoroid. Nanoscale defects can also form in materials during manufacturing may be impossible to detect and repair. This study will investigate a class of material, known as polymer nanocomposites, which is a mixture of nanoparticles with polymers. The computer models have shown that nanoparticles within a polymer can localize to defects, which could then form a patch to repair the damaged region. The objective of this proposal is to investigate the nanoparticle motion near a defect and determine the optimal particle characteristics, which will maximize the healing of the material. The interdisciplinary project involving polymer physics, surface chemistry, and mechanics of materials addresses NASA Strategic Objective 3.1 as it will generate knowledge for development of advanced sustainable materials, which will increase safety in aeronautics and reduce the cost of exploration.
Sierra, ElijahMichigan Technological UniversityInvestigation of static electricity effects on conveyance of MTU-LHT-1A through polycarbonate hoppersIn-situ resource utilization on the moon is the idea of using resources found on the moon to sustain a human presence there. Methods on transporting large amounts of regolith from one point to another is vital and hoppers are the simplest method to do so. The purpose of this proposal is to investigate the effects of static electricity on conveyance of MTU-LHT-1A through polycarbonate hoppers so that an optimized hopper design may be created. The basis of this stems from an experiment conducted on another project that found that under certain circumstances involving static electricity mass flow in an optimized hopper would cease for three cycles after which it would continue like normal. This proposal is meant to dive into this phenomenon and characterize the effects of static electricity on mass flow rate in a hopper to figure out how much static electricity is required to stop mass flow rate.
Smith, MadisonHope CollegeTemperature sensitivity of nitrogen mineralization across a climate transect of Michigan peatlandsPeatlands currently sequester about 2/3 as much carbon as organic matter as there is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate change will increase both carbon inputs and outputs, but the net effect is unknown and a major uncertainty in current climate models. This project will help to constrain how carbon inputs through plant growth will be affected by warming by quantifying the temperature sensitivity of nitrogen mineralization. To quantify this, I will conduct nitrogen mineralization assays of peat cores collected from three bog sites across a latitudinal transect of Michigan. I hypothesize that mineralization will be higher in the northern sites due to the prior loss of easily mineralizable nitrogen in the southern sites. This project will help to parameterize climate models to better predict if plant growth in peatlands will be able to “keep up” with carbon losses caused by warming.
Sprys-Tellner, OliviaHope CollegeIron Bioaccumulation in a Sentinel Species: Implications for Nanoparticle ExposureUrbanization has dramatically increased, resulting in increased air pollution and particulate matter (PM). Inhaled nanoparticles within PM can be detrimental to health; they can bypass the blood-brain and gas barriers and accumulate in organs. Bioaccumulation of iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and oxidative stress. Interestingly, air pollution exposure has been linked to increased magnetite nanoparticles found in human brains. This project aims to determine the effects of IONPs on the iron bioaccumulation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). House sparrows are an ideal model because of their prevalence around human development and unique respiratory structures. Birds were exposed to either an IONP solution or sterile saline. Organs were collected to determine iron concentration via inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy. Our results will shed light on the impact of air pollution on bioaccumulation and provide a framework for understanding the downstream ecological implications.
Stolnicki, NathanHope CollegeStudying the Dynamics of Collisionless Magnetic Reconnection through Eigenmode DecompositionThe work proposed here is centered around a study of the important plasma phenomenon referred to as magnetic reconnection, specifically focusing in very hot plasma regimes where the dynamics are essentially collisionless. This is of particular interest to the solar and space physics communities, as magnetic reconnection is a primary driver of coronal mass ejections and subsequent space weather. Our work is dedicated to the validation of a novel approach referred to as a truncated eigenmode expansion. In principle, this approach will describe the system dynamics in a theoretically much simpler and more efficient manner without losing any of the essential details. Pending the success in validating this approach, fundamental aspects of collisionless magnetic reconnection will be examined using a simplified eigenmode description, including an explicit calculation of the reconnection rate, which can then be compared against satellite measurements to assess the true effectiveness of the theory.
Stone, AbrahamMichigan Technological UniversityAdvancing Mycobiocontrol Techniques for Buckthorn ManagementInvasive buckthorn (collectively Rhamnus cathartica and Frangula alnus) currently threatens forested ecosystems across the Midwest. Buckthorn establishes impenetrable monocultures that can remove native vegetation and disrupt natural forest succession; thus, we seek practical management techniques that can inhibit regeneration in vulnerable ecosystems like recently forested land and restoration areas. Our research aims to develop commercially viable biocontrol technologies on both small buckthorn sprouts and large trees using the native basidiomycete fungus Chondrostereum purpureum in both a liquid and solid application as an alternative to herbicide. Liquid C. purpureum cultures will be tested via sprayable application on brush-hogged monocultures and monitored for local fungal infection and shifts in understory vegetation. Solid culture will be applied to manually injured buckthorn trees through which we can monitor large-scale systemic C. purpureum infection on mature individuals. This research supports sustainable forest management through the creation of locally sourced, long-term solutions to invasive species.
Stowe, MatthewHope CollegeEfficient Interpolation of Tables of Compton Scattering Cross Sections for Implementation in Magnetar Simulationse propose to develop efficient algorithms for the purpose of interpolating multidimensional data containing the necessary information for obtaining the Compton scattering cross section in strong magnet fields within the magnetospheres of magnetars. Monte Carlo simulations require the repeated computation of the probabilities for a photon traversing the magnetosphere with an environment of relativistic electrons and positrons. There are various open channels that might be available for the photon to experience such as photon splitting, pair production, or Compton scattering. The simulations will have assess the probabilities for these processes to occur for the particular photon being tracked. A table-lookup procedure is a very efficient method that interpolates within the table to obtain these probabilities. We seek to develop and assess the performance of various options to obtain an efficient code that can be implemented in such Monte Carlo simulations.
Wakeman, RineCalvin UniversityUsing art and design to foster creation care and advance environmental sustainabilityCalvin University is on land that drains into the Plaster Creek watershed, which is known as the most contaminated watershed in West Michigan. Plaster Creek Stewards (PCS) is a local watershed group at Calvin University that uses native plantings and curb-cut rain gardens to slow down stormwater runoff and increase urban biodiversity throughout the community, including ten areas on Calvin’s campus. The restored habitats and rain gardens are providing multiple environmental benefits (Bouma et al. 2015), yet are still perceived by many as an unappreciated challenge to traditional aesthetics. I will embrace the intersection of arts and sciences to provide PCS and Calvin University with visually compelling resources for the public to learn about the benefits of rain gardens and native landscaping with maps and care guides for homeowners in the watershed and signage placed at native sites on Calvin University’s campus.

Graduate Fellowships

NameAffiliateTitle Abstract
Allwine, NathanielWestern Michigan UniversityInvestigating Plasma Properties in the Afterglow of Nanosecond Repetitively Pulsed DischargesNanosecond repetitively pulsed discharges (NRPDs) generate low-temperature plasma with pin-to-pin electrodes powered by nanosecond rise time power supplies. During repetitive pulsing, subsequent plasma properties following a discharge may become dependent on the pre-pulse conditions imparted by the previous pulse. This recursive interaction provides evident inter-pulse coupling between the discharges. Previous work has found that changing operating conditions such as varying pulse properties, electrode configurations, and background gas properties, will affect plasma characteristics after the discharge, or during the afterglow. This research aims to investigate the effect of NRPD operating conditions on the afterglow of a pulsed discharge using non-invasive plasma diagnostic techniques. This research will provide the necessary data to reveal new insights into plasma physics and electron population dynamics during the afterglow of an NRPD and further develop knowledge of the inter-coupling behavior.
Anderson, KatelynGrand Valley State UniversityEffects of Orange Gold in Michigan: Climate Change, Soil, and WaterFarmers call it “Orange Gold”! Some government agencies call it “industrial waste.” Regardless of interpretation, pumpkins (Cucurbitaceae family) generate 100 million dollars in US sales annually. Pumpkins that do not sell are frequently spread and cultivated in farm fields. Over the last few years, however, government agencies have started to issue warnings and fines (~$25K) defining this product as industry waste suggesting high nitrates, heavy metals (e.g., arsenic), and pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli) contaminate the soils and water table. Working with local agricultural communities, food processors, and the Muskegon conservation district, I propose to test pumpkin vegetable matter, the soils, and the local water table to assess (1) nitrate, (2) arsenic, and (3) E. coli concentrations. In review of the NASA Strategic Plan 2022, my project goals attempt to address “Goal 1” - “Expand Human Knowledge Through New Scientific Discoveries” and Objective 1.1: “Understand the Earth system and its climate.”
Barnes, JacksonMichigan State UniversityA Novel Hybrid N-body Model For Gravitational CollapseWe have modeled the gravitational collapse of a cloud of particles to form planetesimal systems using the PKDGRAV N-body integrator and its soft-sphere discrete element method (SSDEM). The SSDEM ensures that colliding particles stick and rest upon one another rather than merging to form a single larger spherical particle as in a perfect-merger model. We can therefore create planetesimals as particle aggregates with recorded shapes and spin states. Although the SSDEM performs well at late stages of collapse when planetesimals begin to develop their final shapes and resolve their orbits, perfect-merger models perform better at the early stages when most particle collisions theoretically occur. We will therefore create a novel hybrid N-body collisional model through which we will transition from the perfect-merger to the SSDEM, through which we will be able to effectively model the theoretical sextillion particles of a real collapsing cloud while still creating final planetesimals as aggregates.
Collins-Edward, EllanaOakland UniversityInvestigating the Effects of Stimulated Microgravity on HeLa CellsWith a surge of interest and capital in the space frontier within the last fifteen to twenty years, understanding microgravity effects on living systems has never been more prevalent. This comes at a time where incidences of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) have been on a steady rise. Consequently, our goal is to first understand the general effects of microgravity on cell proliferation, in an in vitro model such as HeLa cell culture. Second, we aim to investigate the underlying mechanisms and factors behind the observed effects on HeLa cells. Lastly, we aim to examine simulated microgravity effects on the virology of HPV and pathogenesis of HPV-induced tumorigenesis using HeLa cells. Overall, our purpose is to create a cost-effective and reliable model using ground-based systems to simulate microgravity furthering our understanding of HPV and what risks it could pose for those exploring the space frontier in the long term.
Dunham, KeelyGrand Valley State UniversityUsing Airborne eDNA Detection Methods to Investigate Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Impacts on Communities in Michigan Mixedwood ForestsAnthropogenic impacts on landscapes have created opportunities for invasive species to spread,
causing biodiversity loss. Large-scale biodiversity loss contributes to the degradation of
ecosystem functions and services, creating a need to better understand invasive species impacts
on systems. An emerging, yet understudied monitoring technology is environmental DNA
(eDNA), which is genetic material that is collected from the environment. I will use airborne
eDNA to investigate the impacts of hemlock woolly adelgid on community composition in
hemlock forests. I will sample plant, fungal, and insect taxa in hemlock-dominant areas using
airborne eDNA traps deployed across sites varying in infestation levels in west Michigan. I will
then evaluate how hemlock woolly adelgid presence in these systems are altering levels of
diversity across these taxa. This project supports NASA’s Strategic Plan, Strategic Goal 1.1 by
safeguarding and improving life on Earth through expanding our understanding of how invasive
species alter ecosystems.
Elizondo, EmilyMichigan State UniversityWhat Happens to the Debris of Giant ImpactsIn the late stages of terrestrial planet formation, many hypothesized scenarios envision a giant impact phase during which numerous collisions occur between planetary embryos ranging in sizes between about a lunar-mass to an Earth-mass. In some cases, these giant impacts can lead to the growth of planetary embryos, but in other cases can lead the loss of mass ejected from the impact site, and in the most extreme cases, the complete obliteration of the target embryo. We investigate this giant impact phase through the use of an N-body integrator to simulate the giant impact phase in order to determine how much material is lost from forming the planets and where impact ejecta ends up in our Solar System. After each collision, impact debris may be ejected into heliocentric orbit and some of it may survive on final orbits persisting from the era of planetary formation until today.
Hanson, AnthonyWestern Michigan UniversityA Passive Smart E-Textile Capable of ECG MonitoringCardiovascular diseases is the leading cause of death globally which poses a challenge to monitor this catastrophe as closely as possible. I plan to develop a fully wireless ECG sensing system that will be integrated into a shirt with a conductive thread without any discomfort while providing accurate ECG signal measurements. These sensing electrodes made of carbon composite on fabric platform do not require any skin preparation and gel as they are dry electrodes and attach to skin directly. Therefore, these electrodes can be reused multiple times for user’s convenience. The system will be operated using wireless power transfer through the user’s phone eliminating the frustration of finding a power outlet or having a died battery. The ECG signals will be wirelessly transmitted to a user’s smartphone and can be further analyzed or stored. With this data, we can expand our knowledge of the causes and effects of cardiovascular diseases.
Jewell, BenMichigan Technological UniversityExperimental Characterization of Polymers and Polymer Composites Under High Temperature Oxidative AgingWith the desirable properties of high strength and low weight, the use of polymeric materials has become prominent in many industries. With that being said, the ability to understand and predict the properties of these materials throughout their service life under various loading and environmental conditions is of high importance. Most polymers experience some sort of degradation in their mechanical properties over time, especially those which are exposed to extreme environmental conditions, such as elevated temperatures, humidity, or UV radiation. This becomes more common with applications of these materials in the automotive and aerospace industries where they are exposed to high temperatures around engines, turbines, or exhaust systems. In this study, polymers are exposed to high temperature oxidation and are characterized using various experimental techniques. Our goal is to determine how changes in composite microstructure and coupled external (mechanical and thermo-oxidative) loading can affect the macroscopic behavior of these materials.
LaFrance, TylerWayne State UniversityDevelopment of a class of specialized compression algorithms for structured climate dataThis project aims to develop a class of specialized compression algorithms for planetary climate and atmosphere data. As specialized data collection tools advance, so does the need for specialized compression techniques. Currently, research on the compression of climate data is limited. However, this research is promising and indicates several areas where current methods may be improved. By improving NASA’s compression techniques, we can reduce time, energy, and transmission costs for spaceships and NASA missions. For this project, I propose the research and development of a class of neural network compression algorithms for multidimensional, structured climate data. I intend to produce scientific papers of my findings alongside specialized compression techniques for NASA’s vast amounts of structured climate data.
Lucas, KatherineGrand Valley State UniversityImpact of climate change and restoration on phosphorus loading in impaired wetlandsRestoring wetlands can increase biodiversity and water quality within surrounding ecosystems; however, failing to consider past land uses can result in negative water quality effects. Reconnecting the Mona Lake celery flats is a proposed coastal wetland restoration project in southwest MI. Past agricultural uses within these celery flats have caused high legacy phosphorus (P) concentrations within sediments. Pre-restoration dredging is being considered to control the impacts of internal phosphorus loading (IPL) on downstream water bodies, prior to hydrologic reconnection with Black Creek. The impact of climate change and associated increases in temperature and temperature variability may affect IPL. I will incubate undredged and simulated dredged sediment cores in the laboratory under constant and varying temperatures to examine P release rates and P fractionation. This project coincides with NASA’s desire to better understand the effects that climate change is having on our planet (Strategic Goal 2.2).
Muflahi, ZlyadWayne State UniversityLong-Distance Space Exploration Teams and Cognitive IntegrationThe purpose of the proposed study is to understand the impact shared experiences have on cognitive integration in long-distance space exploration (LDSE) teams, which are often crossdisciplinary. To effectively function, cross-disciplinary teams must integrate knowledge to produce transformed and innovative outputs. To achieve this, shared information must be considered, assimilated, and accommodated by team members. If funded, this research aims to experimentally test Salazar et al.’s (2012) integrative capacity model, specifically designed for diverse science teams, in a LDSE team context. This study will include 504 participants, working in 168 teams. Individual team members will be randomly assigned into roles (geologist, engineer, biologist), given discipline-specific vignettes, and asked to collaborate to complete the timed mission safely and successfully. This proposed research study aims are relevant to NASA's 2014 and 2018 Strategic Plans, 2022 Human Research Roadmap Gap, and answers NASA’s call for more humanities and social science fellowship applications.
Nathan, GabrielMichigan State UniversityModeling stable and radiogenic isotopic fractionation during multi-stage planetary core formationThe separation of a terrestrial planet into a silicate mantle and metal core determines its chemical and isotopic composition. The relative abundance of radiogenic isotopes within the Earth, most notably the Hf-W system, can provide evidence for the timescale during which core-mantle differentiation occurred. Previous attempts to characterize the relationship between core formation, the Hf-W isotopic system, and the formation timescale of the Solar System rely on simplistic single-stage core formation models that do not account for chemical mass balancing during metal-silicate equilibration, and thus require modeling that accounts for the effects of these processes. Here, we propose developing computational models of the Hf-W system evolution during planetary core formation to better understand the timing of planetary accretion. Our models replicate multistage core formation scenarios that are compatible with astrophysical conceptions of planet formation. With MSGC support, this research will further constrain the timing of formation of the Solar System.
Norwood, IanMichigan Technological UniversityConstraining Frictional Charging on Coarse-Mode Atmospheric Dust ParticlesDust plays an important role in Earth’s climate systems and potentially has a net warming effect when larger than 5 microns in diameter. These ‘coarse-mode’ dust particles could account for up to 58% of unaccounted atmospheric dust mass in current climate models. Most current models consistently underestimate the coarse-mode dust particle concentration in the atmosphere due to poorly understood processes including turbulent and electrostatic effects on transportation. To correct these discrepancies as well as constrain the frictional (triboelectric) charging effect in models of stochastic charge transfer between multiple particles, charging between varying size distributions of dust must be measured. To achieve this at the laboratory scale, I will use a combination of previously and newly constructed experimental single-particle and multiparticle apparatuses to measure the frictional charging effects on coarse dust grains. These measurements will improve current aerosol models and assist in developing a new dynamic particle-resolved 3D electric field model.
Novitch, JacobMichigan Technological UniversityModeling of Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Systems in Small CommunitiesRecent environmental change and perturbations of earth system nutrient cycles have led to increased scrutiny and new nutrient removal requirements for wastewater treatment facilities. The economic cost of the technical upgrades required to achieve compliance with new regulations is felt most acutely in small communities, which often employ simple lagoon systems for wastewater treatment. Nutrient removal is inconsistent in lagoons, and limited knowledge exists regarding the fundamentals of wastewater treatment and nutrient removal in lagoon systems. In this project, BioWin software will be used to create a model of a northern lagoon system, and calibration of this model will be performed based on field data measurements. The resulting model will provide fundamental information on lagoon modeling for use by engineers and small communities, also serving as a vital aspect of a larger project evaluating the efficacy of a novel wetland treatment technology for economical nutrient removal in northern lagoon systems.
O'Dea, MarisaWayne State UniversityInvestigating Summertime Ozone Production Regimes Over Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan Using NASA Airborne MeasurementsWe propose to employ the NASA measurements of column density of formaldehyde (HCHO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) during the Michigan-Ontario Ozone Source Experiment (MOOSE) for the month of June 2021 over metropolitan Detroit to infer the ozone production regime. We will use the indicator of the ratio of HCHO to NO2 for determining the ozone production regime. We will then conduct the state-of-the-science newly developed MUSICA-V0 model simulations at the horizontal resolutions of 7km latitude by 7km longitude over Michigan grid domains during MOOSE. The NASA measurements of HCHO and NO2 will be used to validate MUSICA-V0 model simulations. This project will enable us to better understand the causes of non-attainment surface-level ozone concentrations in metro Detroit, with important implications for air quality management and policy making.
Partika, EnidMichigan Technological UniversityUncovering Causes Spatial Variability in Lake Superior Lake Trout PCB ConcentrationsAtmospheric Surface Exchangeable Pollutants such as Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) represent a class of persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic compounds that deposit in Northern latitudes even if there are no local or regional sources. Recent data indicate that PCB concentrations in Lake Superior lake trout vary systematically by up to 20-fold within a relatively small area. Different degrees of biomagnification could result from differences in resource availability or in food web structure. This study investigates causes of this spatial variability in biomagnification by comparing food web structure, diets, and fish condition in low- and high-contaminant bioaccumulation regions using diet analyses, PCB and fatty acid concentrations, and stable isotope ratios. New data generated in this study will be compared with existing data sets for quality assurance purposes as well as to evaluate persistence of spatial patterns over time. This study seeks to further inform environmental stewardship and fisheries management practices within the United States.
Paulen, EliMichigan Technological UniversityElucidating factors controlling stream temperatures in a seasonally snow-covered forested catchment in the Great Lakes RegionRivers and streams have essential impacts on our environment, and countless benefits to humans. However, changing climatic conditions is resulting in warmer stream temperatures which can negatively affect fish populations and other aquatic organisms. As a result, we intend to identify and quantify the impacts of the factors driving stream warming in the spring and summer. We will sample 10 different streams throughout Baraga County, Michigan biweekly for nearly two years in order to identify the hydrologic pathways within the water. We also will create a predictive regression model that will assist in predicting stream temperature going forward. This project will conclude with a written report and an oral presentation at the American Geophysical Union in the Fall of 2024.
Pease, AllisonMichigan State UniversityGeneration of a Mn-Fe piezometer to constrain the evolution of xenoliths and planetary interiorsRocky planets are composed of minerals that form at high pressure-temperature conditions; and the compositions of these minerals can explain planet formation and evolution. The dominant high-pressure minerals found in the Earth and rocky planets larger than Mars are davemaoite and bridgmanite. These minerals are stable for 100s of GPa and 1000s K, and their composition can be used to indicate the conditions under which they formed. Despite their large abundance in planetary interiors, sampling these materials is a challenging process. Current samples are found in xenoliths exposed at the surface. These xenoliths are critical to understand, because they contain knowledge of planetary interiors and impact history that can only be unlocked if a piezometer is established. This study proposes to generate a piezometer that will correlate the depth at which an observed inclusion of davemaoite or bridgmanite is formed.
Pray, EmilieMichigan Technological UniversityThe role of crustal recycling in the evolution of the Bell Creek igneous complex, Marquette County, MichiganThe conditions driving Earth’s crustal growth during the Archean Eon were considerably different than modern plate tectonic processes. Our understanding of the crustal evolution during the Archean is limited due to the lack of surface exposures of rocks this age. Marquette County, Michigan is home to an exposed Archean igneous complex which hosts rocks that recorded information about crustal processes when emplaced. We know crustal recycling and assimilation occurred during the Archean, though we still do not know the degree of assimilation, nor the composition of what was assimilated. To improve our understanding of the conditions of the Earth during a key point in its evolution, this project will investigate the role of crustal recycling in the evolution of Archean magma by using oxygen isotopes measured from the minerals zircon and garnet.
Ramos, RafaelWayne State UniversityBatch manufacturing of polyelectrolyte biomaterial capsules with tailored internal micro-environments through use of electrospray technologies.Given continued interest in the study of the biological hazards and longitudinal effects of space travel, tissue engineering principles have found a promising niche in generating tailorable and replicable in vitro models for this effort. Here, we will expand on a previously reported method of cell encapsulation using glycosaminoglycan (GAG) stabilized chitosan membranes to create modular tissue units with tailorable internal microenvironments when paired with modified extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, to build three dimensional experimental constructs using a bottom-up approach. By first automating the manufacture of these modular units through use of an Electrospray method, and then exploring a range of modified and photocrosslikable biomaterial formulations to replicate bulk tissue properties within the membrane space, we will generate a procedural library for the development of tissue units for optimized modeling of desired areas of physiological study using lab-on-a-chip and bioreactor approaches.
sell, JakobWestern Michigan UniversityInvestigations of the Link between Iron Reduction and MethanogenesisIron is an abundant element and an important part of many biological functions. Most if not all organisms on Earth utilize it, so we can expect that organisms outside of Earth would also use it. Our red neighbor Mars has significantly more iron in its soil than Earth does. Most of this iron is in the form of iron oxides and recent research has found a link between the biological reduction of iron oxides with the production of methane. Combined with recent detections of methane in the Martian atmosphere, this paints a picture of what possible life used to, or perhaps still does, look like. Many parts of this picture are still blank however and the exact relationship between iron reduction and methanogenesis still needs to be characterized. To do this we propose a multi-technique study of iron-reducing bacteria to investigate the mechanism and regulation of this link.
Sutherlin, CaitlynMichigan Technological UniversityUNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS WITH NATURE IN CALIFORNIA, EL SALVADORA new framework is needed to evaluate and analyze the topic of aid and development. Previous ethnographic research in California, El Salvador revealed that aid in the region is not equipped for the long term. Thus, I argue that while aid efforts are well-intentioned, they are unsustainable and will ultimately result in the continuation of water shortages and conflict in the community of California, Usulutan, El Salvador. The Rights of Nature is one such framework that acts as a new paradigm to focus the regime of aid within the local community rather than international parties and governments. I propose to engage photovoice to inform recommendations for place-and community-based aid interventions/programs recognizing the Rights of Nature by the community. These stories will be combined with DEM-derived watershed maps via GIS to provide community resources for future aid and planning.
Thomas, AustenWestern Michigan UniversityInvestigating the Impact of Electrical Facility Effects on Transient Behavior in Hall Effect ThrustersFacility effects are the unintended consequences due to two factors: The impossibility to directly recreate an in-space environment and the electrical configuration the device under test makes with the conducting facility. These effects arise in two forms, background pressure facility effects and electrical facility effects. Investigations to date have shown electrical facility effects have some impact on the stability, performance, and plume properties of the device under test. The proposed work looks to investigate electrical facility effects with a high-speed retarding potential analyzer and an electrical confinement cage. A testing campaign will be carried out allowing the impact of electrical facility effects on HET operation to be quantified. With a move toward high power EP a better understanding of how HETs interact with the facility is of increasing importance. Further research into electrical facility effects is required to eliminate the discrepancy between ground vs in-space operation.
Wehmanen, KyleMichigan Technological UniversityHuman Powered Locomotion on Variable Terrain: Implications for how to Move on MarsNASA has goals to establish human presence on Mars. An unknown is how astronauts should move across the variable Martian surface. The proposed research will determine if use of a human powered locomotive vehicle (i.e., bicycling) can serve as an effective way to move on soft, uneven terrain. My project aim is to compare the metabolic cost (i.e., biological energy requirements) of walking, running, and bicycling on a soft surface to determine which mode of travel is most economical (i.e., lowest energy cost). Twelve subjects will repeatedly traverse a course while walking, running, and cycling, equipped with instrumentation to measure their total oxygen consumption (VO2) and calculate their metabolic costs. These findings will provide a rationale for how astronauts could move on Mars. This project will support MSGC’s mission and my long-term goals by generating novel research related to space travel and human performance within the state of Michigan.
Wilson, KathrynGrand Valley State UniversityTigers in Trouble: Genetic characteristics of Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in sanctuary and zoo populationsTigers (Panthera tigris) are endangered primarily due to human-induced factors, including climate change. With coordinated breeding programs at AZA-accredited zoos the genetic diversity of tiger subspecies is sustainable- for now. However, there are additional captive tigers overlooked for these programs: individuals in non-AZA sites, namely sanctuaries. These populations could hold genetic reserves of alleles absent from breeding programs. Additionally, AZA breeding programs rely on observational pedigrees, termed studbooks. The Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) studbook compiles decades of breeding management information. However, the genetic accuracy of studbooks is unknown compared to molecular measurements. In this study, we will use microsatellites to establish the genetic diversity and relatedness of captive Amur tigers in each site. We will also validate studbooks through in-depth pedigree analyses. This project supports Objective 2.2 in NASA’s 2014 Strategic plan by establishing a better understanding of captive endangered species negatively affected by climate change in the wild.
Witherspoon, ErinOakland UniversityElectrochemical Synthesis of Urea Derivatives on Carbon Nanomaterials under Extreme Atmospheric Conditions We believe our work generating urea from nitrogen and CO2 gases for urea-based fertilizer, plastics, and pharmaceuticals will contribute greatly to NASA’s objective of enabling humans to live and work on planetary surfaces. Herein, we provide a method for recycling CO2 and nitrates, found in Mars’ atmosphere and soil, for use as feedstock in the electrochemical generation of urea in ammonium-based ionic liquids. The process is completely green as it utilizes reactive oxygen species to initiate the kinetically slow reaction. The reaction will be carried out over a temperature range of -50-380° C to simulate Mars’ atmospheric conditions. This work will provide a platform for further optimization of this method for use on other planetary surfaces.
Wu, JudyUniversity of MichiganInvestigating Sea Spray Aerosol Production from Arctic Sea Ice LeadsThe Arctic is rapidly warming, causing significant changes in sea ice extent and thickness. Thinner sea ice allows for more ice fractures, or leads, and increased local sea spray aerosol (SSA) emissions. Due to logistical challenges in cold and dark Arctic winters, few aerosol measurements have been made, limiting our understanding of wintertime SSA. Preliminary analysis of in-situ aerosol data from a wintertime Arctic field campaign shows that nascent SSA particles are abundant, suggesting leads are a likely local SSA source. By combining high spatial resolution satellite imaging, air mass model trajectories, and field data, we will investigate the formation of leads for wintertime SSA production. These results will improve the understanding of ice-ocean-atmospheric interactions to inform climate models by assessing SSA emissions that impact Earth’s radiative forcing.

HONES Awards

Lemmer, KristinaWestern Michigan UniversityPerformance of Electrospray Propulsion on Ground and in Space (PEP-GS)The Western Aerospace Launch Initiative at Western Michigan University (WMU) is developing a 6-U CubeSat that will compare performance data and propellant deposition rates of a passively fed, ionic liquid propellant, porous borosilicate, electrospray thruster between in-space operation and ground-based vacuum chamber operation. The hands-on student group consists of both undergraduate and graduate students learning about satellite design, integration, and testing. Once completed, the satellite will be launched with help and funding from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) University Nanosatellite Program (UNP). Throughout the project, AFRL holds design reviews that UNP participants must attend, including a review at the 2023 Small Satellite Conference. Funds requested in this proposal will provide the team with the ability to send participants to the conference, in turn, giving students invaluable engineering experience. The funds will also help support students to continue to work on the PEP-GS CubeSat mission throughout summer 2023.
Manoharan, SanjivanGrand Valley State UniversityLunar Flagpole Device for Microgravity ChallengeThe objective of this project is to design a flagpole and associated anchoring system that is capable of being easily assembled by a suited astronaut on the lunar surface. The proposed design will consist of multiple pole segments, couplers, and an anchoring system for enhanced stability. The system is capable of withstanding various axial and lateral forces once the American flag is deployed. The proposed design by undergraduate students from Grand Valley State University has been selected to move to phase two (build and test) at the NASA Micro-g NExT competition. The team consists of 12 undergraduate (freshmen to seniors) multidisciplinary engineering students working together to build a device having the potential to be used on future lunar missions. This project allows the team to obtain valuable hands-on experience while contributing to NASA’s Strategic Objective 3.3 of engaging the public and students in space research while advancing STEM education.
van Susante, PaulMichigan Technological UniversityNASA Lunabotics CompetitionThe Michigan Technological University (MTU) Multiplanetary Innovation Enterprise (MINE) Astro-Huskies have been participating in the NASA Lunabotics competition for 3 years and this upcoming year will be their fourth year competing. The team will follow the Systems Engineering process as described by NASA to set requirements for & brainstorm, design, and manufacture a fully autonomous rover. This will then be thoroughly tested before being taken to an in-person competition where they will compete against 50 other universities in a lunar simulated arena. The team will be graded on the content of deliverables submitted throughout the academic year in addition to the design & performance of their Autonomous Rover.

NASA Internships

NameAffiliateTitleNASA Center
Coulding, IsaacMichigan Technological UniversitySpace Suit InternshipJohnson Space Center
Juncaj, MariaOakland UniversityResources Management Division (RMD) within the Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR)Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters
Palumbi, ChristabellaUniversity of MichiganDevelopment of a NASA Climate GameGoddard Space Flight Center
Vijay, VetriMichigan State UniversityAutonomous RoverNavigation and Mapping on Lunar Surface Training Ground – AlgorMarshall Space Flight Center
Zuo, ClaireUniversity of MichiganONSITE - Greater Heights ProjectArmstrong Flight Research Center

Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)

Allart, TeaganUniversity at BuffaloNew York
Chacon, PhilipLeland Standford Junior UniversityCalifornia
Chambers, AuldynnBaylor UniversityTexas
Cruz, NatalieCalifornia State Polytechnic University - PomonaCalifornia
Echeverria, JonathanCalifornia State University, Long BeachCalifornia
Gupta, AmiyaUniversity of FloridaFlorida
Hernandez, GeorgeCalifornia State Polytechnic University - PomonaCalifornia
Tatem, IsabelaRoosevelt UniversityMichigan
Tavarez Garcia, SaraInteramerican University of Puerto RicoPuerto Rico
Zheng, Xiao LinSyracuse UniversityNew York

Research Seed Grants

NameAffiliateTitle Abstract
Anyiam, Uzonna OkennaHope CollegeExploring the structural architecture, reactivation likelihood and seal-ability of faulted subsurface reservoirs in the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf: Implications for CO2 sequestrationThe release of anthropogenic CO2 into Earth’s atmosphere has risen progressively and has resulted in and amplified climatic variations around the globe with unprecedented effect on humans. Geological sequestration of CO2 via subsurface storage in reservoirs can significantly alleviate this effect but its mechanism is under explored. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the structural framework, possibility of reactivation, and sealing potential of faults of subsurface storage complexes in order to prevent migration of injected CO2 outside the target storage strata. My lab will utilize a suite of geological and geophysical data to characterize the structural architecture of reservoirs and overlying seals, evaluate fault-zone juxtapositions and seal properties, as well as carry out detailed volumetric assessment of the different storage mechanisms characterized. This research aligns with NASA’s goals and will serve as a pilot study for NSF/DOE grant proposals that will explore multiple sedimentary basins around the globe.
Chen, JingshuOakland UniversityScalable Space System Fuzzing Using Explainable AIAs space systems are safety-critical, it is important to verify that their control software always leads to safe operation. Toward this, a key step is to enumerate physical contexts that may yield failure-inducing system configurations. This is however challenging due to the complexity and scale of space systems. First, space system software usually involves complex algorithmic control logic that requires sophisticated expertise across multiple domains. Second, the state space of a space system grows exponentially fast with the number of sensors and actuators, which can easily lead to state explosion. To address these challenges, this project will investigate an efficient testing framework that leverages machine learning and explainable AI to design generic and scalable fuzzing.
Figueiredo, VandreOakland UniversityThe effect of Microgravity on Skeletal Muscle Ribosome Biogenesis.Many investigations have demonstrated that muscle disuse, such as limb immobilization and bed rest, leads to a rapid muscle loss. Likewise, a major consequence of space flight and microgravity is muscle atrophy. We recently demonstrated that ribosome biogenesis, the synthesis of new ribosomes, is involved in muscle atrophy induced by muscle disuse. While other mechanisms have been suggested to play a role in muscle disuse, particularly protein degradation, recent findings have shown that blocking protein degradation does not affect muscle loss induced by microgravity. Other cellular mechanisms that lead to muscle loss must, therefore, be investigated. We hypothesize that a reduced ribosome biogenesis might help explain the muscle atrophy induced by microgravity. For this, we will investigate whether simulated microgravity using a Clinostat reduces ribosome biogenesis in skeletal muscle cells. If our hypothesis is correct, this will have important implications to the understanding of muscle atrophy induced by microgravity.
Kim, JinseokWestern Michigan UniversityMachine learning based transition from micro to macro propertiesAdditive manufacturing is utilized to print customized parts in the Space Launch System. However, the evaluation of printed parts is not straightforward and nondestructive tests are often required because of the uniqueness of the customized parts. In this proposed effort, a non-destructive material characterization technique will be developed utilizing machine learning method and micromechanical properties. The micromechanical properties will be determined using instrumented micro indentation tests which can measure grain properties and grain boundary properties. The gradient boosting algorithm, a machine learning algorithm will be utilized to obtain material properties from a microscopic image of materials. The average phase/grain size, quantified grain orientations, phase/grain properties, and phase/grain boundary properties will be used as training data with traditionally measured material properties which are measured through conventional destructive material tests. The developed material characterization technique will be able to non-destructively measure material properties using microscopic images with known micromechanical properties.
Masihi, SiminWestern Michigan UniversityRevolutionizing Robotic Tele-Operation Systems via Haptic Feedback using Advanced Force Sensing TechnologyAlthough collaborative robots have been assisting humans for many years, there are circumstances under which only robots can safely perform a task. These constraints include dysfunctionality due to amputated limbs, unallowed environments to direct human interaction (e.g., low atmospheric pressure), etc. The dexterity of the robotic manipulation, however, remains a challenge and has to be improved using haptic feedback. By highlighting the fact that current haptic devices mainly use commercially available sensors, the goal of this project is to develop a novel haptic system with advanced force sensing capabilities. This sensory system will use flexible sensors and stimulators that can conform into the curvilinear surfaces of the robot/human body, making the force measurements accessible and precise. In this tele-operation system, human operator distantly controls a robotic manipulator and is guided via a haptic force feedback associated with the intensity, orientation, and location of the interacted force on the robot side.
Olagbemi, OmofolakunmiHope CollegeEXPLAINABILITY IN MULTIVARIATE TIME SERIES CLASSIFICATION MACHINE LEARNING MODELSMachine learning (ML) classifiers are typically seen as black boxes in which the reasoning behind the determination of their outputs (whether these be classification labels or regression estimates) is not fully explainable. Notwithstanding the increasing application of ML models in several disciplines, the lack of explainability does not engender and promote trust in these models. This study seeks to focus specifically on explainability of ML models applied in posture classification of selected patient-handling tasks using data obtained from participants during task performance. Deciphering the features or dimensions that most significantly impact the resulting classifications will serve as a basis in formulating metrics that would be indicative of what constitutes good posture and, by extension, what constitutes neutral or poor posture. This investigation into posture will serve as a tool to facilitate promotion of good posture during task completion, thereby reducing the incidence of low back pain among professional nurses.
Philben, MichaelHope CollegeBogs on the brink: Detecting warming-induced changes in recent carbon accumulation in Michigan peatlandsMichigan lies at the southern extreme of the current range of peatlands. The goal of this project is to determine if climate change is causing this range to shift northward, which could cause marginal peatlands to net sinks to net sources of carbon dioxide and further exacerbate warming. This will be accomplished by conducting a 10-day field campaign to collect cores from across a climate transect of Michigan peatlands. Lead-210 dating will be used to determine the rate of carbon accumulation over the last century. I hypothesize that recent warming has caused accumulation to slow or cease at marginal southern sites, but increase at cooler northern sites, reflecting a northward shift of the peatland climate window. These peatlands at the southern edge of their climate range will be used as sentinels for the impact of climate change on the larger northern peatlands as warming continues in the coming decades.
Wiacek, AlycenOakland UniversityQuantitative Ultrasound and Photoacoustic Imaging of ThrombosisIn 2019, a blood clot was identified blocking the internal jugular vein of an astronaut during spaceflight. Otherwise known as thrombosis, this occurrence prompted researchers to investigate the effect of microgravity on blood flow to determine if there is an increased risk of thrombosis during spaceflight. One tool to identify and diagnose thrombosis, particularly in resource-limited settings such as the ISS, is ultrasound. However, ultrasound alone does not offer a method to quantitatively track blood clots over time, which is critical to triaging patients. Therefore, to provide quantitative monitoring of blood clots over time, this proposal focuses on quantitative ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging. We will develop a simulated model of thrombosis and evaluate three types of quantitative features extracted from ultrasound and photoacoustic data. This project will lay a foundation for the quantitative monitoring of thrombosis using multi-parametric acoustic-based imaging in resource-limited settings such as the ISS and on earth.
Xi, XinMichigan Technological UniversityThe compound extreme climate and dust storms over the Northern Hemisphere midlatitude drylandsCompound climate and weather events are combinations of multiple drivers or hazards that contribute to amplified societal and environmental impacts. Understanding the responses of compound events is an emerging priority to identify, assess, and mitigate the associated risks. This proposal addresses key knowledge and methodological gaps in characterizing the multivariate compound dust events from the northern hemisphere midlatitude dryland region. The project objective is to assess the physical mechanism and temporal variability of compound dust events, with the following tasks: (1) diagnose the hydroclimate, synoptic-dynamic, and land use drivers of most recent extreme dust events; (2) develop a climatology of compound dust events for 1980-2020; and (3) analyze the occurring frequency, trend, and variability of past compound dust events. This project establishes a solid basis for assessing the climate model prediction of compound dust events, and contributes to the NASA strategic goals and Decadal Survey research priorities.
Xu, LanyuOakland UniversityAn autonomous, responsive, and reliable robotics system for space access\textbf{Abstract} Given the ability to learn complex representations in a data-driven manner, deep learning (DL) algorithms have greatly impacted the transportation field. Space exploration is a challenging and meaningful transportation scenario. The huge distance between the spacecraft and the ground controller makes communication costly. Therefore, it is important for the spacecraft to learn to make correct decisions quickly, reliably, and independently, especially in a time-critical situation. This project proposes to train multiple autopilot tasks together to build an efficient and effective autonomous piloting system. By observing the environment as a whole, spacecraft can perceive the situation promptly and adjust themselves to make appropriate decisions to achieve space missions. Given the constrained computation and energy resources carried by spacecraft, a cache mechanism is innovatively introduced in the system to facilitate the intensive computing requirement and improve the system's energy efficiency. The proposed system enables high-level autonomous capabilities for important space missions.
Yuan, YinanMichigan Technological UniversityGenetic Engineering Novel Regulatory Antisense RNAs for Plant Adaption to Space EnvironmentGrowing plants in space is important for life supporting system during long-term space exploration and space colonization. For successful plant production in space, space-resilient plant species are required to live under harsh space environment including limited water supply. Genetic engineering crops through transgenic manipulation of regulatory RNAs involved in plant response and adaption to water deficiency in space, is a promising solution to this challenge. In this proposed research, we investigate the role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in plant response to water deficiency, and we further genetically modify several drought-responsive lncRNAs in Arabidopsis to improve the water use efficiency of plants under low water potential. This project aligns with NASA’s strategic plan to promote science discovery and achieve the space mission. The outcomes of this project will provide novel insights and new knowledge for space plant breeding, and will also significantly advance the sustainable agriculture production on home earth.

Pre-College Educational Programs

Lindsay, HarrietEastern Michigan UniversityHigh School Summer Science Program at Eastern Michigan UniversityThe Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Office of Undergraduate Research and Biology and Chemistry Department faculty developed a three-week high school summer research program. Area high school students who have completed at least one science class are eligible to apply. Students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis and matched with faculty mentors by interests and students’ coursework. They are also partnered with EMU undergraduate mentors in the same lab. The faculty/undergraduate teams train the participants to work on an original research project. Participants present their results at a poster session on the program’s last day. In summers of 2018-19 we operated the program by charging fees to participants. We again propose offering our program to low income, first generation, and underrepresented high school students with an interest in science by requesting funding for some program costs. We gratefully acknowledge MSGC funding for 2020-2022 to help us to offer this program.
Narayanan, KrishnakumariEastern Michigan UniversityBits & Bytes Summer Computing Camp for Middle School GirlsBits and Bytes is an all-day, week-long, summer computing camp for middle school girls. It introduces computing and technology from theoretical concepts to applied projects. Coding is introduced through educational software and robots with the support of student mentors. The camp concludes with a hackathon and a career discovery event. It is staffed by the Women in Computer Science (WICS) club members at Eastern Michigan University and led by a faculty member.

The annual camp has served about 25 girls each year, for five years. This year, with the help of two funding sources, the camp was offered twice, one at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and the other fully online. These camps served regional and national participants respectively. Both camps were very successful and the participants’ feedback on the post-surveys were all positive. Next year, we have decided to offer an onsite camp with an increased capacity of thirty students.
Narayanan, KrishnakumariEastern Michigan UniversityGigabytes Summer Computing Program for High School GirlsGigabytes is an all-day, week-long, summer computing program for high school girls. It introduces computing and technology through robot-based programming. Coding is introduced through educational robots with the support of student mentors. The program concludes with a hackathon and a career discovery event. It is staffed by the Women in Computer Science (WICS) club members at Eastern Michigan University and led by a faculty member.

This is the first summer program of its kind at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), after many successful offerings of middle school computing camps for girls. Camp participants and their parents’ persistent requests were the driving force for the creation of this new program. Gigabytes participants are not expected to have a prior knowledge of computer programming, but if they do, they will have plenty of opportunities to further that knowledge through programming of robots. This program will serve 30 participants onsite at EMU.
Thompkins, GeraldEngineering Society of DetroitGirls in Engineering AcademyThe Girls in Engineering Academy (GEA) was created by The Engineering Society of Detroit in 2017 to be a hands-on, project-based STEM/pre-engineering program for underrepresented minority middle school girls from Detroit. The GEA is a year-long STEM educational program, coupled with a four-week summer program and with an Academic Year component (16 weeks), that provides students with an in-depth view at various STEM and engineering disciplines and models. The program structure allows students to have the added benefit of small group interaction with female undergraduate and graduate engineering and STEM students, as instructors, and female engineers from industry who serve as role models. The goal is to increase student access within the context of engineering and STEM education and to academically prepare students for high school. And the overarching goal is to ameliorate the gender gap and achievement gaps that currently exists in STEM and engineering education.

Public Outreach Educational Programs

Gipson, KarenGrand Valley State UniversityRoger That!Roger That! is a celebration of space exploration named in honor of Grand Rapids astronaut Roger B. Chaffee. The two-day public symposium, organized by faculty at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in collaboration with staff at Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM), directly supports NASA’s public outreach goals, especially 2.4. The inaugural event was held in 2017 as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire that claimed Chaffee’s life, and MSGC funding has been granted each subsequent year. GVSU hosts a design challenge, workshops, and presentations on aspects of space exploration, while GRPM hosts field trips, planetarium shows, and family-friendly activities. Subsequent to the pandemic, the event has shifted to a hybrid format: virtual presentations with K12 activities – including the keynote astronaut – offered in-person. This proposal seeks continuation funding for the 2024 symposium, along with special initiative funding for expanded outreach to underrepresented/minoritized K12 students.
Ross, PatrickFlint Institute of Science and HistoryMaking Sense of AstronomyMaking Sense of Astronomy

Longway Planetarium will develop educational content that brings a multitude of sensory options to our visitors. STEM education relies heavily on student and audience engagement. By expanding the planetarium’s sensory options, Longway will meet NASA’s strategic of Discover and Explore by allowing audiences to learn about the universe through previously unused mediums such as touch and provide a learning environment to non-traditional audiences such as the visually impaired or hard of hearing.

Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium Education Guide lists Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) next to each course offering. To see a full list of field trips and outreach programs, download our 2022-2023 Education Guide, or sort by grade level and class type. (

Please visit Longway Planetarium at for a list of shows that offer both live lectures in astronomy and dome theater programming.

Multiple Educational Programs

NameAffiliate/OrganizationTitle Abstract
Hagen, MeganGogebic-Ontonagon ISDInstilling Science from the Start: Western U.P. SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School)Kindergarten students in the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP) have limited access to STEAM learning experiences. The WUP comprises largely remote, rural communities and is home to two Sovereign Tribal entities. WUP communities have historically lacked equitable educational resources because of isolation and poverty. Instilling Science from the Start: Western U.P. SOLID Start will increase student engagement in STEAM by coordinating a Pre-college Education program that includes multi-district adoption of the NGSS-aligned curriculum, SOLID Start (Science, Oral Language, and Literacy Development from the Start of School). Additionally, an educational Teacher Training program will integrate place-based and career development activities into the curriculum highlighting unique attributes of the WUP. The new professional learning program would be ongoing, including summer field experiences and school year sessions, designed to increase educators' pedagogical content knowledge. The innovative and collaborative approach would embed regionally significant examples and community partnerships into the SOLID Start curriculum.

Heraud, CynthiaForsythe Middle SchoolOur Place in Space (Bots for a purpose) This proposal requests funding to create and run a robotics learning camp for middle school students and a related teacher training program for under-served groups in Ann Arbor Public Schools. It aims to target 6-8th grade students during the summer of 2023 with a focus invitation group of females and underrepresented minorities. AAPS will team up with First in Michigan, AAPS Rec & Ed and MSGC to offer a Summer Robotics Camp (Our Place in Space: Bots for a Purpose) and Teacher Robotics Training workshop. The intention is twofold; recruit girls and underrepresented minorities, providing them with the chance to build simple robots and find that STEM is for them and a teacher/coach workshop will provide a safe, non-intimidating space for teachers to learn robotics. This request is aligned with Objective 3.3 i2018 NASA Strategic Plan, to make “proactive efforts to diversify the STEM pipeline to NASA internships and employment.”
Ipri Brown, SusanHope CollegePreparing STEM TeachersPreparing STEM Teachers will increase the capacity to meet the quickly growing need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education teachers in the state. Specifically, attention will be given to providing pre-service teachers exposure to effective, inquiry-based techniques for working with diverse learners and students from a range of socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds. Empowering future STEM educators to combine best practices in inquiry-based learning as well as techniques for inspiring diverse learners to enter STEM fields will significantly impact multitudes of students across those teachers’ careers. This proposal seeks funding for pre-service teacher stipends, mentoring, evaluation, and materials to support our unique hands-on training in the context of Hope College’s Summer Science Camps. Complementing in-classroom learning, this impactful experiential learning immerses pre-service teachers in STEM classroom experiences and builds a pipeline of teachers that can inspire and mentor a diverse future workforce.
Ipri Brown, SusanHope CollegeEngineering the Future AcademiesHope College’s Engineering the Future Academies broaden access for area students to explore engineering design in a hands-on, problem solving context and increases the capacity for youth serving organizations to host further science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Sixty (60) middle and high school students and 12 professionals will participate in academic year and summer out-of-school time learning. Professional development for organizational leaders will focus on inquiry-based methods related to multi-disciplinary engineering design experiences with the emphasis on building units of instruction that are transferable to either the classroom or after school contexts. Supplies and equipment purchased for the camp activities will be transferred to the partners at the end of the summer. Camp fees are covered and transportation and meals provided for traditionally underserved students to facilitate their participation.
Kobus, Krzysztof (Chris)Oakland UniversityEarth System Science STEM Camps, Outreach and Teacher Training (K-12 Students and Teachers, and the Community)A continuing hands-on, student-centered, activity-based outreach and education program is proposed here to bring substantive Space and Earth system sciences training to three separate populations. These populations include K- 12 students through school-year STEM field trips, summer programming with a focus on underrepresented minorities, and disadvantaged students, and K- 12 STEM teachers to provide best practices in teaching STEM, Next Generation Science Standards, and the broader community. The shorter workshops, STEM field day trips, and longer STEM camps in the summer are to be continuing activities that were initiated with MSGC funding that we hope will continue as matching is continuing at higher funding levels and the funds are leveraged to obtain more support. These efforts are STEM-based experiences where attendees learn fundamental knowledge applied to active learning exercises. Promoting STEM to this generation and those younger is necessary to enhancing knowledge, education, and economic growth with a sustainable mindset.
Lynn, JenniferCopper Country ISDOccupy Earth for Educators: Teaching Earth System Interactions through Geo-literacy, Soil Sciences and Place-based Stewardship EducationStudents in the Western Upper Peninsula (WUP) have limited access to STEM experiences. The WUP comprises largely rural remote communities and is home to two Sovereign Tribal entities. WUP communities historically lack equitable educational resources because of isolation and poverty. Occupy Earth will be a series of Professional Learning (PL) opportunities for K-12 teachers to apply principles of Place-based Stewardship Education (PBSE), focused on the Lake Superior Watershed, through NGSS Earth science content, concepts and practices. Student engagement in STEM will increase by coordinating this Pre-college Education program teacher training. Teachers will integrate components of Earth Force Processes [Environmental Action Civics] curriculum, local geo-literacy, regionally significant examples, and community partners. Occupy Earth will increase educators' pedagogical content knowledge through ongoing and instructionally embedded support. These include summer field experiences, and school year sessions with mentors and a Professional Learning Community. The Lake Superior Celebration will showcase student projects.
Miller, DianeGrand Valley State UniversityEnergizing Our World & Weekend ExpandedThe GVSU Regional Math and Science Center (RMSC) requests funding to support an iteration of the Energizing Our World Program. Leveraging the successes of in-person camps and community outreach events, the RMSC will work with a group of middle school students to expand their expertise in renewable energy, sustainability, and STEM literacy and will serve as ambassadors to the community. Partnerships with local businesses and community organizations will provide middle school students with an authentic, real-world experience. Professionals collaborate with students in solving complex problems to improve their communities as they take on a more active role as informed citizens. Augmentation funds will provide the support needed to ensure all communities are represented and served well through these partnerships. The extended contact with middle school students beyond the scope of a one-week experience is a research-based practice that is proven to enhance student agency in STEM


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