MSGC 2024 Award Recipients

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

Faculty Led Fellowships for Undergraduates

Beavers, NyahCentral Michigan UniversityImpact of temperature on hemodynamics in a model of weightlessness.Background: Weightlessness in space flight produces hemodynamic (regulation of blood flow to throughout the body) shifts. Space shuttle temperatures can range from 18-27°C resulting in additional shifts in hemodynamics. However, the impact of weightlessness and environmental temperatures on hemodynamics have not been examine. Purpose: of this investigation is to evaluate hemodynamic response to weightlessness in a warm and cool environment. Study Design: Using a randomized crossover study design, we will assess the impact of changes in the gravitational environment on hemodynamics in a cool (18°C) and warm environment (27°C). Methods: Twelve healthy adults (20-45 years) who meet current exercise guidelines will be recruited for this investigation. Participants will complete two trials with identical tilt table tests (to mimic hemodynamic response to weightless). Trials will only differ by condition (i.e., warm vs. cool environment). Hemodynamics (i.e., heart rate, blood pressures, ECG) will be assessed continuously throughout the tilt test.
Burley, EmilyOakland UniversityAdvancing Cybercriminal Profiling Using a Physics-Based AI Model of Adversary CognitionThe psychology of traditional criminal profiling is well-established, and the psychology of cybercriminal profiling is growing steadily in its wake with the expansion of cyberspace itself. However, most of the existing research on cybercriminal profiling focuses on inferences that have low defensive utility, such as psychological disorders and socioeconomic status. There is a gap in the research regarding the ability to make inferences about the adversary’s traits that are defensively useful, based on the malicious code itself. This research seeks to extend inductive cybercriminal profiling by discovering patterns between the code and traits about the adversary’s identity. This will be accomplished by using an artificial intelligence model that represents the adversary and sheds light on their psychology, including their cognition and behavior as it relates to the code. The research intends to provide an enriched ability to make inferences about the attacker’s traits that aid attack response and investigation.
Carr, LeviCalvin UniversityComputing the Structure of the Secondary Star in a Contact BinaryA contact binary star consists of two stars orbiting each other so closely they share a common atmosphere. Although relatively common, the fundamental question of how they evolve over long periods of time without merging or breaking contact is unsolved. Prof. Molnar’s team recently developed the first detailed model of contact binary evolution using the assumption that the mass transfer rate (from the smaller to the larger star) is set by the larger star. The larger star powers the common atmosphere and thereby sets a boundary condition on the smaller star. This work proposes to test that assumption by making the first calculation of the interior structure of the smaller star. Specifically, the stellar structure code MESA will be modified to implement the model boundary condition. The validity of the assumption will be tested by finding whether the computed stellar structure results in mass transfer at the predicted rate.
Eastman, NicholasWestern Michigan UniversityEnhancing Sensor Resilience: A Machine Learning-Based Solution for EMI MitigationThis research addresses the ramifications of IEMI on accelerometers present in drones. The approach to mitigating the effects of IEMI is through a machine learning based software solution. Anticipated outcomes include the creation of a public database correlating accelerometer output signals with induced IEMI, alongside the creation of a software machine learning based solution. The research is aligned with NASA’s interests in drone and sensor safety. Drones are being used for a variety of missions by NASA. Developing robust systems in these drones is of great importance. This machine learning based solution is a step towards enhancing the resilience of the sensors used in drone technology.
Feldmann, ValenHope CollegeDeveloping a novel variant of k-means for dividing massive data into many clusters with well-spread centroidsKmeans is a classical clustering algorithm that has been successfully applied to NASA images to segment clusters of galaxies. It has many advantages, for example, it is simple and fast, and always converges, but it fails to consider the spread of the centroids of the clusters. This can be a bigger issue when given a large data set and trying to find many clusters (in order to obtain a sketch of the data set). In this work we aim to develop a novel variant of kmeans by incorporating the between-cluster scatter of the centroids into the objective function. We will derive an algorithm to efficiently solve the resulting problem and test it on NASA imagery to help understand the formation of the universe and also light pollution on earth. The local centroids of the data found this way can also be used as landmark points for large scale spectral clustering.
Fogt, JosephHope CollegeEffect of Radiation Damage on Tl-Ba-Ca-Cu-O (2212) thin-film superconductorsSuperconductors are key materials for advanced technologies. Especially, thin-film superconductors can be used for various space devices such as space telecommunications high-frequency filters. However, these devices are susceptible to the radiation damage in space. Therefore, it is important to understand how the property of thin-film superconductors changes under space environments. In this project, we will investigate the susceptibility of Tl-Ba-Ca-Cu-O (TBCCO-2212) thin-film superconductors under space environment using the high energy proton radiation. Proton beams of 0.6 - 3.4 MeV energy will be generated using a local particle accelerator (NEC 1.7 MV tandem Van de Graaff) at Hope College, and the resistivity of the thin-film superconductors will be measured down to 4 K using a cryogen-free cryostat in the PI’s lab. This grant will support the student researcher full time in the summer of 2024.
Gransden, GabeSaginaw Valley State UniversitySystem design to explore sustainable energy subsequent to solar energy harvesting through solar cageRenewable energy is of great focus to reduce carbon emission and climate change. As one result, solar energy harvesting is gaining traction throughout the globe. However, how much energy harvesting is sustainable? The project aims to answer the question indirectly. The study focuses on designing and building a structure, called solar cage, and designing a circuit to harvest solar energy through connected photovoltaic cells, PV cells, and modeling the energy remaining in the solar cage. The varying light intensity outside the cage will be utilized to model the remaining energy inside. According to the proposed model, the structure and circuit will be designed, simulated, built, and tested. The final outcomes will be numerical values for the harvested and remaining energy and can indicate the sustainability of a healthy biome.
Grant, EthanMichigan State UniversityGround to Space Quantum Clock SynchronizationGround to Space Quantum Clock Synchronization aims to revolutionize clock synchronization by implementing Quantum Clock Synchronization using the Bahder protocol and NASA’s Low-Cost Optical Terminal (LCOT). This implementation offers a potential accuracy improvement from 2-4 orders of magnitude over current GPS capabilities as well as heightened security. Tasks include investigating round-trip entangled state coupling to the environment, assessing LCOT capabilities for Bahder protocol implementation, and designing a ground-to-Low Earth Orbit synchronization prototype. Gaining an understanding of clock implementations, generating entangled photons, mastering interferometry methods, and formulating an implementation plan for quantum clock synchronization are the focuses of this project. Ground to Space Quantum Clock Synchronization aligns with NASA’s 2022 Strategic Plan, in particular with Strategic Goals 3 (Innovate) and 4 (Advance). The anticipated impact spans enhanced space economy operations, improved GPS accuracy, and space infrastructure advancement through its novel LCOT implementation.
Guetari, WeeamMichigan State UniversityInvestigation of Mechanical Integrity of GeTe for Radioisotope Thermoelectric GeneratorsThe proposed research aims to investigate the mechanical integrity of p-type GeTe for next generation radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) used in space applications. Multiple GeTe samples with varying transition temperatures will be synthesized using powder metallurgy and solid-state synthesis process, mainly spark plasma sintering. After the phase is checked with x-ray diffraction, temperature-dependent elastic constants and microhardness testing will then be done to systematically to probe the mechanical performance of these samples. We aim to determine the changes in elastic properties as a function of crystal structure in GeTe, quantify the microhardness of samples in two different crystal structures before and after heating cycles to probe reliability, and establish the relationship between acoustic attenuation and microstructure using internal friction analysis of resonant ultrasound spectrum. With this information, we will be able to draw conclusions about the ability of GeTe to mechanically withstand RTG applications.
Guikema, ZacharyCalvin UniversityMicrometeorite Collection at Calvin UniversityMicrometeorites are extraterrestrial particles smaller than 2mm, which can be found on the surface of the Earth. Not only have micrometeorites been collected in remote areas, but recent work has demonstrated that they can also be collected in urban settings. The goal of this project is to establish the first collection of micrometeorites on Calvin University’s campus, using published and tested techniques for separating these particles from dust and debris collected from PVC roofs older than a decade. Micrometeorites will be identified and classified by comparing microscopic inspection with published images in the literature. The proposed project is an exploratory study which will provide the raw material for future studies of micrometeorites carried out at Calvin. Added educational value will be obtained by using the collected micrometeorites in a Calvin astronomy course and placing one on permanent display at the Dice Mineralogical Museum.
Harrison, TrevorHope CollegeCalibration of Fluence of High-Energy Particles using a Rutherford Backscattering MethodElectronic devices used in spacecraft are susceptible to radiation damage in space. Therefore, it is important to understand the susceptibility of the devices to radiation damage. One way to test the susceptibility of the devices on Earth is to use high-energy particles generated by particle accelerators. However, the Faraday cup commonly used to measure the fluence (number of particles per area) of high-energy particles generated by a particle accelerator is inaccurate due to the unwanted ejection of electrons from the Faraday cup. In this project, we will develop a new procedure to accurately calibrate the Faraday cup using high-precision Rutherford Backscattering (RBS) spectroscopy. With this combined method, we will be able to accurately calibrate the Faraday Cup and the outcome of the proposed research will improve the future space-simulation experiments on various electronic devices and compounds.
Henein, KristenOakland UniversityLongitudinal Evolution of Escherichia coli in MicrogravityThe constant and prolonged presence of humans in space has inspired studies that aim at quantifying how species change in this unique environment. Changes in the human microbiome are known to affect human health and, therefore, are of particular interest. Here we propose to understand how microgravity (µg) affects the genome of Escherichia coli, a common model organism and microbiome component. This study will be the first longitudinal analysis of mutations accumulation during prolonged exposure to µg and, also, the first to use high-fidelity long-read sequencing methods to identify the location, type, and time of occurrence of the mutations observed. This information can be used to computationally predict functional effects and, therefore, inform future space missions.
Hoeppner, GraceMichigan Technological UniversityEffects of Microgravity on Predisposing Factors for Atrial Fibrillation Thrombosis RiskAtrial fibrillation is an irregular heart arrhythmia that is intermittent and hard to diagnose. It often leads to thrombosis, which can increase the risk of a stroke and heart failure. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is about 5% in astronauts; while this is similar to the general population, it affects astronauts at a younger age. The objective of this experiment is to assess the effect of microgravity on flow dynamics related to thrombosis formation in the atrium during atrial fibrillation. Using patient specific data, we will extract geometry and run computational fluid dynamic simulations, on earth and in microgravity. We expect to find tremendous differences in hemodynamic parameters between the simulations for earth and those in microgravity, which can help us understand the predisposing risk of thrombosis formation within atrial fibrillation in space.
Jackson, BenjaminHope CollegeInfluence of Surface Roughness on Mechanochemical Competition of Wear vs Growth for Metal Oxide Nanoparticle Antiwear FilmsReliable and safe moving components depend on controlling chemical and physical interfacial properties. Within moving components, sliding forces drive chemical reactions (mechanochemistry) through a stress-assisted Arrhenius model, leading to accelerated wear or growth of protective (antiwear) films. The net effects of material removal or addition depend on a competition of these mechanochemical processes. To understand this competition, metal oxide nanoparticles will be used a platform that readily forms surface bound antiwear films under sliding. There are indications, though, film formation is restricted as the roughness of the surface increases, with no clear relationship established. This work will use a combination of mechanical testing (rheometer with a tribology adaptor) to drive film formation under different surface conditions, and post-sliding analysis with confocal Raman microscopy and SEM/EDS to understand film composition, morphology, and volume. This will provide fundamental, quantitative insight into the influence of surface roughness on surface wear vs film growth.
Kempf, HaileyUniversity of MichiganCharacterization of Organic Compounds in Individual Arctic Sea Spray Aerosol ParticlesThe temperature of Arctic air is increasing at a rate much higher than the global average. In the Arctic, sea spray aerosol (SSA) particles are generated via wave-breaking processes. The organic makeup of SSA particles is affected by marine microbes. Organic compounds in SSA can hinder their ability to activate as a cloud droplet, thereby affecting the Arctic climate. Sea ice conditions can be understood through satellite remote sensing. Due to warming, Arctic sea ice is more likely to crack and form leads over which SSA can be generated. Raman microspectroscopy is used to characterize the composition of organics within individual Arctic atmospheric particles collected during the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition from September 2019 to October 2020. Samples from various dates throughout all seasons were chosen for analysis in order to gain insight into the variability of organics in SSA throughout the year.
Klaver, ChristopherHope CollegeAnalysis of the temperature sensitivity of peat decomposition using carbohydrate analysis across a climate transect of MichiganPeatlands sequester carbon (C) as organic matter, reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Global warming will increase both input and output of C to peatlands. However, the net effect is currently unknown, and the fate of peatland C is a significant uncertainty in global climate models. The goal of this project is to evaluate the temperature sensitivity of organic matter decomposition under natural field conditions. This will be done by measuring the carbohydrate content of the peat across a longitudinal transect of 7 different bogs, using carbohydrate content as a proxy for the extent of natural decomposition. We hypothesize that the warmer southern bogs are losing C faster than the colder northern bogs. This project will help provide an improved climate model of peatlands and help us predict how temperature could impact on peatlands’ ability to store C in the future.
Leake, NatalieHope CollegeEffects of Urbanization on Stress Levels, Auditory and Visual Processing of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)Urban expansion poses considerable threats to wildlife, introducing challenges such as habitat fragmentation, pollution, and novel predators that impede animal communication and elevate stress levels. This study investigates the physiological consequences of urban stressors on house sparrows (Passer domesticus), specifically examining the interplay between urbanization, stress hormone (corticosterone, CORT) levels, and auditory and visual processing. Birds from rural, suburban, and urban areas near Holland, MI, were collected. Stress responses were assessed by analyzing baseline and elevated CORT levels from blood samples taken within three and thirty minutes after handling, respectively. Feather CORT concentrations indicated chronic stress levels. Auditory processing was measured through auditory brainstem responses, evaluating sound detection, while visual processing was assessed via electroretinogram tests, gauging motion detection ability. Hypothesizing potential urban-rural disparities in CORT concentrations, the study aims to contribute insights into the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on wildlife communication in a growing urban environment.
Marsh, AlexanderWestern Michigan UniversityReal-Time Heart Arrhythmia Detection Using AI-Driven TechniquesThis project aims to apply modern techniques to detect irregular heart rhythms. With AI-driven techniques as a focus of the project, I aim to support the project with skills learned while attending Western Michigan University. Specifically, this project aims to achieve real-time detection of arrhythmia with a >98% accuracy. This project will have use in other research, such as the detection of arrhythmia due to alcohol abuse, among other factors. Textile-based applications will be explored with this project, utilizing technology developed at WMU.
Murray, GraceMichigan Technological UniversityCultivating Healthy Communities: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Female Eponyms in Heirloom Plant Varieties and their Impacts in Community Food NetworksBuilding upon three years of groundwork at the Michigan Technological University’s Living Memory Lab, we use mixed methods to explore the intersection of heritage, representation, and communities’ food system resiliency. Using five heirloom plant varieties named for historic women, we investigate their impact and engagement with the local community of Houghton, Michigan through surveys and auto-ethnography. Can these varieties generate conversations around both plants and people, history and ecology? By using living memorials, or plant-based food varieties named after individuals to memorialize them, we can explore the intersection of biographical history and agriculture. The conversations we create are intended to promote sustainable agriculture, discuss food system diversity, highlight the importance of heirloom plants, teaching basic gardening and seed saving techniques, introduce new and representative histories, and center the contribution of women both within and beyond STEM.
Pickett, CherithCalvin UniversityInvestigations into Phytoremediation in Curb-cut Rain Gardens in the Plaster Creek WatershedPlaster Creek Stewards (PCS) is an initiative of Calvin University focused on returning health and beauty to Plaster Creek, known as the most contaminated waterway in West Michigan. One of the green infrastructure approaches PCS installs is curb-cut rain gardens (CCRGs), sunken gardens positioned between the sidewalk and street that collect stormwater runoff from roadways. Last summer I worked with PCS installing CCRGs; this summer I hope to return to investigate the phytoremediation potential of native plants in these gardens. This research project will examine environmental toxins in CCRG soils and in the biomass of plants growing in these soils. Findings from this research will help inform future practices of PCS and other groups who are helping to make cities more sustainable with urban green infrastructure projects.
Rentzel, AnthonyCentral Michigan UniversityOptimizing Portability of Bioluminescent Cortisol Sensors for Stress Hormone MonitoringHigh cortisol levels are a direct predictor of the body's response to increased stress levels. Increasing stress levels are proven to have shown many negative effects inside the body including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, and others. Currently there is no ultralight weight, portable and efficient way to measure cortisol levels outside of a specialized clinical test. This serves as a problem for continued monitoring of NASA employees who may not have access to these tests. The goal of this project is to develop a portable, low-cost cortisol reporter by making a bioluminescent cortisol sensor that emits light when combined with saliva with high cortisol levels. We will develop a cortisol detection assay consisting of a protein-based biosensor that can be lyophilized for storage, and reconstituted when in contact with saliva, allowing the bioluminescent sensor to activate when a high level of cortisol is in the saliva.
Rozema, BridgetGrand Valley State UniversityInvestigations of integer sequences using edge covers of graph familiesA graph models pairwise relationships between discrete objects, and can be represented as vertices (dots) and edges (lines) that connect them. An edge cover of a graph is a subset of the edges where each vertex is an endpoint of at least one edge. The edge covers numbers give rise to known number sequences such as the Fibonacci numbers. Therefore, edge covers provide new combinatorial interpretations of known sequences or generate new sequences, allowing us deeper knowledge of these integer sequences. In the past two years, we investigated many graph families to find edge cover sequences and their properties. Previous student research groups discovered new results to be contributed to the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences used by researchers. I will continue this project to advance our knowledge of integer sequences by studying the edge covers of graphs formed by attaching path graphs to cycle graphs.
Sadler, EvanOakland UniversityFinding a Silver Lining: Carbene–Silver–Carbazolide Complexes as Luminescent MaterialsOver the past two decades, organic electronics have shifted from future targets to commercially available products and devices, with the most common being organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). OLED devices are fabricated with π-conjugated organic molecules and inorganic components (metals) to produce vibrant luminescence. These hybrid materials are advantageous to solve the short device lifetime of high-energy OLEDs (blue emitters). Coinage metals, such as silver (I), are ideal building blocks for hybrid materials due to their low cost, facile derivatization, and environmental inertness. Carbene-metal-amido (CMA) complexes are an ideal building block for photoactive materials; many examples of coinage metal CMA complexes are highly luminescent. Peripheral modifications to the amido unit that tune the fluorophores emission are seemingly missing from the field. Our main efforts will be to design, synthesize, and characterize a novel series of carbene-silver-carbazole complexes and determine their applications as the core photoactive material in OLED devices.
Styf, MarjorieCalvin UniversityConnecting High School Students to Scientific Research through the Plaster Creek Stewards Green Team ExperienceI will be working with Plaster Creek Stewards (PCS), serving as a mentor for their High School Green Team program and doing research on a long-term monitoring project (“tree project”). PCS is a watershed restoration initiative at Calvin University focused on cleaning up Plaster Creek, the most contaminated waterway in West Michigan. The Green Team program gives 20 high school students an opportunity to learn about and participate in watershed restoration activities, and through my leadership of the tree project, to connect directly with scientific research. The tree project was set up in 2020 in coordination with the Kent County Drain Commission to evaluate the effectiveness of seven native tree species in riparian restoration projects. Green Team participants will assist with data collection, learning firsthand how scientific research is done, and they will engage in an educational activity that focuses on the importance of trees to environmental and human health.
Wakeman, RineCalvin UniversitySecuring nature’s future through observation, illustration, and appreciationSir David Attenborough once said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” (Williams, 2013). This applies to all environments vulnerable to climate change, but also to the vulnerable ecosystems in Michigan that can be found in our own backyards. (Karowe, 2009). Science illustration plays an important role in understanding our subjects of study, and despite broadening academic separation between fine art and sciences, there is great value in illustrating subjects as scientists have done historically. (Kur, 2018). To further interdisciplinary learning and a goal of inspiring people to value and protect the wonder of the natural world, I will create illustrations and host drawing workshops for Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens.
Wenderski, JohnHope CollegeThe impacts of iron oxide nanoparticle exposure on antipredator behavior of house sparrows (Passer Domesticus).Increased urbanization increases air pollution and threatens avian viability. A significant part of pollution’s solid composition are nanoparticles, which can bypass animals’ blood-gas and blood-brain barriers to yield adverse effects. For example, Zinc oxide nanoparticle-exposed chicks showed lowered antipredator behavior, and silver-injected mice showed less locomotion, both of which are behaviors that are necessary for the fitness of an animal. This project will examine the effects of an abundant air pollutant’s, iron oxide nanoparticle (IONP), exposure on house sparrows' (Passer domesticus) antipredator behaviors. This species occupies environments across the urbanization gradient; therefore it serves as a representative species to be exposed to environmentally relevant pollution levels. In IONP-exposed birds compared to controls, we predict fewer antipredator responses (e.g., scanning and fleeing), as well as longer times to react to a stimulus. Results will shed light on the effects of pollution on avian fitness.

Graduate Fellowships

NameAffiliateTitle Abstract
Abou Halloun, JihanWayne State UniversityControl of Hot Carriers Cooling in Perovskite Solar CellMany space activities require a high-power supply such as growth of a space station. Halide
perovskites show potential for high efficiency. Despite their advantages, a large number of
challenges remain before becoming a competitive solar cell in space. Hot carriers cooling, their
mechanism and dynamics in semiconductors play a crucial role in enhancing such device
functionalities. However, in the presence of a powerful electric field, electrons or holes with high kinetic energy can be called “hot carriers” (HC). They might be injected into the wrong area in a semiconductor device resulting an unstable or degraded device. Therefore, slowing down hot carriers hold promises for designing an efficient perovskite solar cell (PSC). To do that, we propose a model predictive control (MPC) – recurrent neural network (RNN) framework to control the hot carrier cooling in such PSC based on their dynamical model.
Allwine, NathanielWestern Michigan UniversityLuminescence Characterization During Operation of Porous Emitter Ionic Liquid ElectrosprayVacuum chambers for electric propulsion (EP) testing introduce facility effects that impact thruster performance, compromise diagnostic data reliability, and challenge lifetime estimation. Substantial efforts are dedicated to the study of these effects. Among EP systems, passively-fed, porous, ionic liquid ion source (ILIS) electrospray thrusters stand out due to their high efficiency, and compact form factor. Facility effects impact ILIS thruster testing, primarily secondary species emission (SSE) which involves the emission of fragmented ions, clusters, droplets, neutrals, and other debris resulting from ions colliding with chamber surfaces. SSE is thought to interact with the primary beam, producing a luminescent glow. This research aims to unravel the specific particle interactions and relaxations responsible for the observed luminescence by utilizing non-invasive diagnostic techniques. The luminescence will be imaged, and species will be characterized, providing valuable insights into this phenomenon. Ultimately, advancing and maturing electrospray thruster technology by enhancing our understanding of SSE-thruster interactions.
Apostle, AlexanderMichigan Technological UniversityImproved Synthesis and Application of Human TelomeresSustained space exploration currently requires the presence of human astronauts, of who must sustain good health in an environment foreign to our evolutionary origins. One such obstacle to sustained health in space is the observed phenomenon of elongated telomeres in astronauts, which increases the risk of cancer. However, understanding this problem is inhibited by the lack of chemical synthesis of telomeres due to their dG-rich nature, making them complicated to synthesize. To understand the mechanism of elongated telomeres, an improved approach to their research is required. A reliable method for synthesizing telomeres de novo, of specific length, and possessing epigenetic factors, will allow the in-depth analysis required to elucidate the problem. No such method for telomere synthesis yet exists. It is for this reason, we wish to propose the use of our newly developed PEG-dG monomers for the synthesis of telomeres, and their use in understanding telomere maintenance.
Barnes, JacksonMichigan State UniversityThe direct formation of contact binary planetesimals from gravitational collapseWe have used the PKDGRAV N-body integrator and its soft-sphere discrete element method (SSDEM) to model the gravitational collapse of a cloud of particles to form planetesimal systems. The SSDEM enables colliding particles to stick and rest upon one another rather than merging to form a single larger spherical particle as in a perfect-merger model, and it does not use inflated radii to enhance particle collision rates. Thus, we can create planetesimals as particle-aggregates with realistic densities and a diverse range of rotations and shapes, tightly-orbiting binary systems, and even contact-binaries. The mechanisms through which contact-binaries form have been mysterious, yet our discovery demonstrates that they can evolve at the earliest stages of planetesimal formation. We will constrain the conditions which enable contact-binary evolution including individual lobes’ shapes and orbital periods, contact-binary shapes, rotation periods, and neck widths, and we will directly compare results to the population of known contact-binaries.
Beals, MatthewMichigan Technological UniversityAdvancing Adaptive Aerostructures: Utilizing Steady-State Traveling Waves for Drag Reduction and Sustainable AviationAmbient aerostructural vibrations are traditionally seen as a hindrance to system efficiency, but what if these unwanted vibrations could be captured, mechanically filtered, and used to generated drag reduction? By leveraging meta-structures unique ability to channel and shape vibrations, combined with recent research showcasing the potential of steady state traveling waves (SSTWs) to manipulate performance characteristics of airfoils, this research aims to fundamentally change how ambient vibrations are utilized in aeronautic structures. The development of a passive drag reduction system, built on SSTWs and meta-structures, has the potentially to substantially increase the efficiency of both subsonic and hypersonic aircraft during critical phases of flight such as take off and landing.
Boyle, GradyMichigan Technological UniversityUsing High Resolution Multitemporal Imagery for Ash Inventory and EAB Invasion Mapping in the Upper Great Lakes RegionEmerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a forest pest of major concern in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. It causes severe mortality of ash trees, including black ash whose ecosystems are at major risk of transitioning from forested wetlands to unforested. A major concern from managers for responding to this threat is that they currently don’t have accurate black ash inventories or a way of implementing site prioritization for management efforts. We aim to begin to address this challenge through development of a remote sensing product that accurately detects black ash wetlands, as well as black ash decline due to EAB invasions. We plan to develop validation data set of 60 black ash stands along a gradient of invasions and utilize multi-temporal high resolution planet imagery to develop this product.
Dennis, KaylynneGrand Valley State UniversitySink or Source? Quantifying ecosystem metabolism and assessing its role in the carbon cycle in a Great Lakes EstuaryEarth’s inland water bodies are recognized hotspots of Carbon cycling, making their role critical as climate change accelerates. Carbon metabolism, representing the sum of photosynthesis and respiration of carbon, determines if a body of water is a carbon source or sink. Since 2003, ecosystem metabolism has been measured seasonally in Muskegon Lake, a Great Lake’s estuary. Since 2011, an observatory ( ) has made nearly continuous dissolved oxygen measurements. Three separate annual studies have quantified carbon metabolism and concluded that Muskegon Lake is a net sink for carbon, but no multi-year or high-frequency seasonal time-series measurements of oxygen dynamics or carbon flux exist. I will explore the decadal inter-annual trends and seasonal intra-annual trends in Muskegon Lake’s metabolism by utilizing a combination of discrete in-lake incubation experiments and continuous in-lake sensing of oxygen to quantify carbon flux and assess the role of temperate lakes in the changing global carbon cycle.
Dogdu, HakanWestern Michigan UniversityDevelopment of a High-Fidelity Pressure Mapping Glove for Enhanced Grip Analysis and Injury Assessment in EVA SpacesuitsAlthough astronaut suits and gloves are crucial in space mission safety, they may induce challenges like discomfort and injury during spacewalks. To address this, a glove with capacitive pressure sensors is developed, providing astronauts with real-time data on grip dynamics and injury assessment. These sensors are made from flexible, biocompatible silicone materials with microstructures to enhance sensitivity. The glove also features a load distribution system that replicates the hand's bone structure, thus improving health and performance. This project aligns with NASA's deep space exploration goals and supports infrastructure maintenance. The design, fabrication, and testing of this glove prototype will significantly advance sensory technology. This innovation is not just beneficial for astronauts but also has potential applications in prosthetic limbs and other fields where precise force measurement is crucial.
Elizondo, EmilyMichigan State UniversityInvestigating Terrestrial Planet Formation Through Collisional DebrisThere are many theories of terrestrial planet formation that can all reproduce the correct orbits and masses of the planets in the Solar System. However, the events that are hypothesized to occur in these scenarios are inconsistent with one another. Each scenario depicts various types of collisions from gentle accretion to catastrophic impacts. The commonality within these theories is that debris is produced when collisions occur. The meteorite record indicates that certain types of differentiated asteroids could be debris from planetary collisions. This project will track the amount of debris that is produced and where it ends up for one of the leading terrestrial planet formation scenarios, the Grand Tack model. As a way to test the validity of this formation scenario, we can compare the simulated amount of debris that resides in the asteroid belt to the amount of potential debris currently in the asteroid belt.
Foster, EmilyOakland UniversitySimulation and Modeling of the Settling Behavior of Polydisperse Gas-Solid Flows With Application to Pyroclastic Density CurrentsPyroclastic density currents are fast-moving, highly destructive volcanic phenomena resulting from the collapse of an ejected volcanic column. PDCs travel up to several hundred kph and can cause extensive damage to human settlements and ecosystems. PDCs are inherently complex due to their multiphase. Predicting PDCs is challenging, and developing accurate models has remained elusive. Due to its complexities and societal impacts, understanding and developing models of the physics of PDCs would enhance the performance of existing models. To overcome the challenges associated with PDC research, I present a method using high-fidelity Euler-Lagrange simulations to infer models through the use of a sparse regression method. Data from recent eruptions are used to define simulation parameters. The main aim of PDC hazard modeling is to generate predictions that can be used to mitigate potential hazards. The proposed model will also enable more accurate predictions of the atmospheric conditions in extreme Earth environments.
Furr, ElliotWayne State UniversityProtein Based Lanthanide Capture from Coal Fly AshIn this project, we aim to develop a method to recover lanthanides (Lns) from waste materials, aligning with NASA's strategic interests. Our research focuses on creating a protein-based conjugate that efficiently captures and releases lanthanide ions. This process involves attaching diethylenetriamine pentaacetate (DTPA) to serum albumin, characterizing the conjugate, and demonstrating its viability as a capture agent with recyclability. We will then apply the conjugate to extract lanthanides from coal fly ash leachate. This research directly benefits NASA's goals by advancing technology crucial for aerospace applications, space-based communication, and gamma-ray spectroscopy. As a student researcher, my responsibilities include conducting experiments and contributing to NASA's mission of resource utilization and sustainability. This project not only furthers my academic and career aspirations but also exemplifies the importance of environmentally friendly chemical processes in space exploration. Summer 2024 marks the timeline for this research, propelling my journey toward a Ph.D. in Chemistry.
Greene, JillianGrand Valley State UniversityUsing Sentinel-3 OLCI Imagery to Quantify Methane Emissions from Michigan’s EstuariesA large source of unconstrained methane emissions comes from lakes, and these emissions are not included in global climate change models. Sampling for diffusive and ebullitive emissions is both time and equipment intensive and costly. Because of this, few studies have examined the drivers of lake methane production, and how it may change with climate and land use change. Recent research has identified the potential for quantifying methane emissions from lakes using remote sensing proxies of lake parameters with in situ methane measurements in machine learning models. In this study, I will sample methane emissions from three drowned river mouth (DRM) estuaries of Lake Michigan along a latitudinal gradient of varying anthropogenic influences and climates. With the results, I will examine the accuracy of machine learning for remote sensing methane and identify key drivers of methane production in lake ecosystems to advance our understanding of Earth’s changing climate.
Hoffmann, AlexanderWayne State UniversityApplication of Advanced 3D Printing Techniques for All-Solid-State Electrolyte in Lithium-Sulfur BatteriesIncreasing dependence on renewable energy and energy storage devices requires the development of the next generation of high energy battery technologies. Solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries have a high theoretical capacity that proves to be key to the next generation of batteries but requires continued research efforts to meet performance requirements. Many solid-state batteries experience challenges associated with high internal resistance, decreasing the electrochemical performance of the battery. Early research indicates that 3D-printing reduces the interfacial resistance between the battery electrolyte and electrode materials, therefore improving the battery performance. Herein, the design of 3D-Printed polymer electrolytes with novel surface nanostructures are proposed for application in all-solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries.
Jackson, JacobMichigan Technological UniversityCell-Specific Adaptive Deep Brain Stimulation in the Subthalamic Nucleus of a Parkinson’s Rat ModelDespite the neurological effect long-term space travel can have on astronauts, little research exists to treat diseases and disorders brought on by the conditions of space travel. Specifically, Parkinson’s Disease (PD) has been linked to cosmic radiation during long-duration space flight. Continuous deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an accepted treatment for PD but faces challenges such as side effects and power consumption. To combat these challenges, we will develop a cell-specific optogenetic adaptive DBS (aDBS) algorithm to treat PD symptoms in a rat model of PD. Beta band activity is increased in PD patients and will be used as the controller of optogenetic stimulation. PD rats will undergo a circling test to quantify their behavior during aDBS activation. We hypothesize that optogenetic aDBS will reduce symptoms, similar to continuous DBS, while using less power. This proposed work will introduce an innovative power-efficient and intelligent DBS treatment platform.
Mohrhardt, BenjaminMichigan Technological UniversityInvestigating and Predicting the Formation of Toxic Nitrogenous Byproducts from Phenolic Compounds in the Presence of Nitrate under Far-UVC Irradiation from KrCl* ExcilampsKrypton chloride (KrCl*) excimer lamps (excilamps) have recently emerged as a promising surface, air, and water disinfection tool as a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Emitting far-UVC irradiation centered at 222 nm, these excilamps demonstrate more efficient disinfection as well as pollutant removal via advanced oxidation processes, while also eliminating risks to humans compared to conventional low/medium pressure mercury UV lamps. While KrCl* excilamps are a promising technology, understanding the different impacts of background matrix components in wastewater on disinfection performance as well as pollutant removal is critical. In particular, the ubiquitous presence of high concentrations of nitrate in wastewater effluents can promote the formation of toxic nitrogenous byproducts during the disinfection process, which is of significant concern. The aim of this proposed research is to understand and predict the formation of toxic nitrogenous byproducts from the phototransformation of phenolic compounds in the presence of nitrate.
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 may account for 58% of missing atmospheric dust mass in current climate models. Most models underestimate the particle concentration in the atmosphere due to physical, chemical, and numerical assumptions made and their resulting effect on dust settling velocities. To correct some of these physicals discrepancies and develope more accurate numerical modeling strategies which alter the settling velocities for large dust, the transfer of charges between varying size distributions of locational dust samples must be measured. To acheive this empirically, I will use a combination of previously used and newly constructed single- and multi-particle apparatuses to measure the magnitude, direction, and lifetime of these frictionally generated forces on coarse silicate dust grains to determine their signifigance on dust settling time.
Olszewski, MitchellGrand Valley State UniversityEffects of Escherichia coli (E. coli) from manure processing on a West Michigan watershedIn the U.S. the application of manure results in ~325,000 hospitalizations each year due to a pathogen called Escherichia coli (E. coli). This research explores the impact of beef vs. dairy practices examining manure (bunker vs. compost vs. fresh) as a soil fertilizer and whether the associated E. coli (O157:H7) affects Michigan watersheds. For decades manure practices have been considered a point-source pollution causing human infections downstream. However, recent studies show some manure practices kill bacteria as temperatures exceed 37°C (98.6°F) when composted. Working with local beef and dairy farmers and the Muskegon Conservation District, I propose to investigate how different manure processing methods affect E. coli concentrations in watersheds and how these concentrations vary seasonally. 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.”
Oreskovic, BenjaminWayne State UniversityRefractory Oxides for High-Temperature Luminescence ThermometryThermosensitive phosphors, which display a well-defined temperature-dependent luminescence response, offer unique advantages over contact thermometry and pyrometry with respect to implementation under hard-to-access conditions. NASA is interested in these materials as they are ideal for implementation in turbine engines. Presently, thermosensitive phosphors capable of operating in such environments have been limited to materials based on yttria-stabilized zirconia activated with lanthanide emitters. Our group is currently investigating La2Mo2O9 as a refractory material for thermosensitive phosphors. This oxide has the potential to afford a luminescent temperature sensor that can operate in ranges beyond the limits of yttria-stabilized zirconia. The objective of this proposal is to unveil the potential of Dy3+-doped La2Mo2O9 as an optical sensor for high temperatures.
Serocki, EleanorMichigan Technological UniversityEstimating Trace Gas Flux Dynamics in Boreal WetlandsWith high uncertainty of non-anthropogenic carbon inputs to the atmosphere, global carbon models will inevitably fall short in projecting total impacts on the earth system. Given the importance of environmental methane and carbon dioxide flux in the total carbon budget of the earth system, the significance of high latitude peatlands in carbon storage, and the unknown rates of gas flux in these areas, an improved model to represent the input of carbon from peatlands is fundamental to furthering our understanding. As conditions change, warmer and dryer summers lead to peatlands becoming desaturated, allowing for accelerated aerobic decomposition of these soils, and increased decomposition of critical carbon sinks. Here, we aim to leverage remotes sensing to map carbon flux from boreal peatlands, utilizing nearly two decades of field data collection and leveraging foundational relationships between water table position and carbon flux.
Sether, TannerMichigan Technological UniversityToward a Deep Learning Approach for Fast Galaxy Catalog GenerationNumerous missions are currently collecting enormous amounts of cosmological data, and the near future will only bring more. Providing theoretical predictions to match with observations is key to constraining cosmological parameters. Recently, simulations have gotten extremely detailed and accurate; however, these simulations are computationally expensive. In order to retain the necessary accuracy and speed to keep up with data from surveys, machine learning proves to be a valuable asset. Here, we propose techniques utilizing convolutional neural networks and simulations from the CAMELS project to create mappings from relatively inexpensive dark matter simulations to galaxies from detailed but accurate hydrodynamic simulations. We expect to outperform existing models, such as the Halo-Occupation Distribution method, in both speed and accuracy.
Sisson, MatthewMichigan Technological UniversityMicromagnetism of Self-Assembled FeSi2 NanoislandsMaterials exhibit novel magnetic behavior at nanoscales due to broken symmetry relative to bulk. By developing a deterministic model that links specific symmetry-breaking features (e.g., corners, interfaces, edges) with subsequent changes in magnetism, nanostructure geometry and spatial arrangement can be optimized to achieve the desired magnetic properties to create and manipulate spin currents necessary for spintronics, which would greatly accelerate neural network workloads and could help optimize complex design problems in various engineering disciplines. This research will develop simulation tools to model the micromagnetic behavior of iron disilicide nanoisland ensembles to causally link symmetry-breaking features with their specific effect on local atomic magnetic moments and investigate how magnetic coupling changes with nanoisland spatial separation. Utilizing an integrative approach, the results of these models will be validated by parameter-matched experiments and the data used to refine the model. The knowledge gained will allow researchers to process nanomaterials to achieve desirable properties.
Steltzer, StephUniversity of MichiganInvestigating Oxygen Tension and Stiffness in Tendon and Enthesis RegenerationTendons and entheses are essential for transmitting skeletal muscle loads to bone yet they are unable to regenerate following load-induced injury. A major challenge in regenerating tendon and enthesis lies in their low cell number, poor vascularization, and extracellular matrix (ECM) dense environment. The primary cells in tendons are fibroblasts which form and organize the nascent collagen-rich ECM necessary for mechanical function and mechanotransduction. We have recently shown that mouse Achilles tendons are under hypoxic stress during embryonic development, and the maturation of the tendon-to-bone insertion relies on expression of hypoxia inducible factor-1a (Hif1a), which is known to control collagen expression. Yet, if and how hypoxia and stiffness influences collagen deposition and organization remains unknown. In this study, we aim to identify the oxygen- and stiffness-dependency of collagen deposition and organization in tendon using in vitro microphysiological systems and staining for different collagen types.
Sutherlin, CaitlynMichigan Technological UniversityCommunity- and Nature-Led Adaptation in El SalvadorMy preliminary research suggests that aid efforts, while well-intentioned, may be unsustainable and contribute to continued water shortages and conflict in the community of California, El Salvador. Thus, I propose to study how the Buen Vivir model may act as a new paradigm to focus the aid regime within the local community rather than top-down approaches. I propose to return to California in summer 2024 to conduct additional research to study aid organizations active in the community and to analyze how their project procedures align with the community’s local knowledge and needs. Specifically, this second phase of research will utilize institutional and aid ethnographic methods such as document analysis, field observations, and interviews to study how local knowledge could contribute to informing improvements in community-led and nature-led adaptations. Questions will also be formulated to gain an understanding of structural restrictions that may exist within organizations for including community knowledge.
Wehmanen, KyleMichigan Technological UniversityHuman Powered Locomotion on Variable Terrain: a Continuing Investigation for how to Move on MarsNASA’s goal is to expand human presence to Mars in service of “unlocking the mysteries of the universe”. A challenge is how astronauts may move while exploring the variable Martian surface. This proposed project continuation will expand my ongoing research demonstrating how use of a human powered vehicle (i.e., specialized bicycle) can improve travel over soft unstable terrain (i.e., sand). The project goal is to investigate the upper limits in speed for a bicycle traveling on sand while characterizing efficiency of travel. Twelve participants will bicycle across a range of speeds on sand and asphalt. Changes in oxygen consumption, metabolic energy cost, and mechanical power output will be assessed. These findings will provide a more complete rationale for how astronauts could possibly move on Mars. This project will support MSGC’s mission and my long-term goals by generating novel research related to space exploration and human performance within Michigan.
Wu, JudyUniversity of MichiganSea Ice Leads as a Source of Sea Spray Aerosol: A Combined In-situ Measurement and Remote Sensing StudyThe Arctic is experiencing accelerated warming, resulting in major transformations, including reduced sea ice extent and thickness. With increasing open water and thinner sea ice, which is prone to fractures (leads), local sea spray aerosol (SSA) emissions are expected to be increasing and impacting clouds. Due to limitations (e.g., low spatial resolution and cloud constraints) of common satellite remote sensing techniques, there are limited studies on sea ice leads in the wintertime Arctic. In-situ aerosol data from a wintertime Arctic field campaign shows a significant contribution of SSA, and preliminary remote sensing products indicate nearby sea ice fractures, suggesting sea ice leads as a source of local SSA. We are investigating sea ice leads for wintertime SSA production by combining high spatial resolution remote sensing, air mass trajectory modeling, and field data. These results will improve understanding of sea ice lead production of SSA to inform climate models.

Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP)

Abdi, JaataniPurdue UniversityVirginia
Ahmed, OlaaCornell UniversityNew Jersey
Cimino, ElissaUniversity of MiamiFlorida
Haidar, FarahBoston UniversityMassachusetts
Hernandez, EvanVanguard UniversityCalifornia
Nazario, EmmanuelUniversity of Puerto Rico - MayaguezPuerto Rico
Pickett-Pinex, TajuanUniversity of IllinoisIllinois
Vargas, AdrianaUniversity of Puerto Rico - PiedrasPuerto Rico
Vargas, CarolinaUniversity of Puerto Rico - MayaguezPuerto Rico
Zebus, KatieUniversity of Illinois Urbana - ChampaignIllinois

NASA Internships

NameAffiliateTitleNASA Center
Poppei, SloaneUniversity of MichiganFalling Snow Measurements in Southern New EnglandGSFC
Thomas, AustenWestern Michigan UniversityElectric Propulsion Time Dependent, Non-intrusive Diagnostic with Application to Flight DevelopmentJPL

Industry Internships

D'Urso, EricUniversity of MichiganWolverine Radar
Manni, JosephUniversity of MichiganWolverine Radar
Terhaar, JohnMichigan Technological UniversityWolverine Radar

HONES Awards

NameAffiliateTeam NameTitleAbstract
Cackett, EdwardWayne State UniversityDead Stars SocietyDiscovering Astronomy with LSST: Resources to Promote Research Alliances with Under-Resourced InstitutionsWe are providing students from Henry Ford College with research opportunities, with the long-term goal of creating a linkage via astronomy research between Henry Ford College and nearby four year universities. We are requesting funds to augment existing support provided by the Legacy Survey of Space and Time Discovery Alliance (LSST- DA). Our deliverables are to develop and create a set of resources to be used by the broader astrophysical community on how astronomers can actively engage with students from under-resourced institutions, such as community colleges, in cross-institutional collaboration on astrophysics research. LSST-DA has given us $20,000 in funding, however, we require a modest amount more to achieve the full impact of our program, and showcase our results at the upcoming American Astronomical Society meeting.
Lemmer, KristinaWestern Michigan UniversityWestern Aerospace Launch InitiativePerformance of Electrospray Propulsion for Gathering Single Polarity DataThe Western Aerospace Launch Initiative at Western Michigan University (WMU) is developing a 6-U CubeSat that will determine the feasibility of using a passively fed, ionic liquid propellant, porous borosilicate, electrospray thruster in single polarity mode. 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 2024 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 2024.
Swartz, BenjaminUniversity of MichiganCLAWS (Collaborative Lab for the Advancement of Work in Space)IRISThe execution of our project, IRIS, will be undoubtedly impactful in the advancement of work in space, both at the college level and in actual space exploration. We are building a fully functional augmented reality system, while also fostering a tight-knit community among members. Working together extensively over two semesters allows for students to bond while simultaneously challenging them intellectually in the production of IRIS.
To fully execute this project, we need to have part of our team fly out to NASA’s headquarters during the test week (May 19-23rd). Obtaining this grant would allow us to cover the expenses of our team’s travel, accommodation, and other associated costs, so that any member regardless of socioeconomic status can partake in our mission. Ideally, we would have 40 of our most dedicated members fly out to Houston, so we are procuring funding to make this goal a reality.
van Susante, PaulMichigan Technological UniversityAstro HuskiesLunabotics 2024 HONES participationThe MTU MINE AstroHuskies team is preparing to participate in the 2024 Lunabotics competition. This entails designing, building, testing a robot and competing with 50 other university teams in the nation. The robot has to meet weight and size constraints as well as be as autonomous as possible. The robot has to traverse an obstacle zone to get to the construction zone where the robot has to excavate, transport and deposit as much lunar simulant as possible in 30 minutes to construct a berm. This berm structure is simulating a structure intended to shield other lunar infrastructure from being blasted with lunar regolith during landing and take-off. The team of over 30 undergraduate students is very excited to build and test the robot and participate in the competition.

Research Seed Grants

NameAffiliateTitle Abstract
Cho, KyuilHope CollegeEffect of Radiation Damage on Thin-Film SuperconductorsThe MSGC grant will support a new faculty who is starting a new research program in thin-film superconductors and radiation damage. Superconductors are critical materials for advanced technologies. Especially, thin-film superconductors can be used for various space
devices such as space telecommunications high-frequency filters. However, these devices are susceptible to radiation damage in space.
We propose to investigate how the superconducting properties of YBa2Cu3O7−δ (YBCO, Tc ∼ 90 K) thin-films (∼500 nm thick) change under space environment using the high energy proton radiation. Proton beams of 0.6 - 3.4 MeV energy will be generated using a
local particle accelerator (NEC 1.7 MV tandem Van de Graaff) at Hope College, and the resistivity of the thin-film superconductors will be measured down to 4 K using a cryogen-free cryostat in the PI’s lab. This grant will support a student full time in summer 2024 and
the PI to mentor the student.
Dean, SarahHope CollegeLunar Anorthite Chemical ExtractionApollo missions demonstrated the high plagioclase content of the moon’s highlands. Anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8) is the calcium-rich end member of the plagioclase series, and has been proposed as an alternative source of aluminum on Earth and the moon (Neron et al., 2022; Wanvik, 2000; and McKay and Williams 1977). Extraction and beneficiation of aluminum and other materials from lunar anorthite will assist in the local creation of lunar infrastructure and equipment, fulfilling NASA’s 2018 Strategic Objective 2.2 on increased human exploration of space and the moon. Chemical dissolution of anorthite will use warm hydrochloric acid for initial chemical separation similar to existing processes on Earth (Hudson, 2015; Neron et al 2022; and Aranda and Mastin, 2015). We propose to expand the existing methods & laboratory tests to lunar pressures & temperatures. In addition, we will maximize HCL recovery in order to minimize transportation of material from Earth.
Fredericks, ErikGrand Valley State UniversityFuzzRT: Enhancing Assurance for Robotics ApplicationsRobotics systems can often find themselves in situations for which they were not explicitly designed as a result of uncertainty, potentially resulting in catastrophic system failure. For example, robots may encounter unexpected environmental conditions or human behaviors that induce violations of key objectives or may result in logic faults or latent bugs. One approach for managing such scenarios is fuzz testing, a strategy for overwhelming systems with either guided or randomized inputs for detecting system flaws. This project introduces FuzzRT, a framework for performing design-time and run-time fuzz testing on heterogeneous robot platforms. FuzzRT at design time will create a suite of test cases to be executed at run time, where run-time fuzz testing incorporates sensor data for monitoring changing environmental scenarios. We contribute to NASA's mission by enhancing software assurance in robotics, thereby enabling NASA missions to execute their objectives safely and for a longer period of time.
Jia-Richards, OliverUniversity of MichiganEvaluating Latitudinal Dependency of Iodine Deposition in Earth's Upper Atmosphere from Satellite Propulsion System EmissionsThe desire for satellite mobility as well as operation in very-low-Earth orbits has increased the demand for commercially-viable electric propulsion systems beyond what may be sustainable with xenon. As a result, alternative propellants such as iodine are actively being explored as options to support future commercial space activities in low-Earth orbit. Prior terrestrial-based studies conclude that iodine has a relatively high ozone depletion efficacy compared to bromine and chlorine, but may not as easily reach the stratosphere from the Earth’s surface. Emission of iodine from a satellite propulsion system would represent a novel source of iodine deposition into the upper atmosphere. The goal of this project is to simulate the path of iodine ions from their emission from the thruster to deposition in the atmosphere, and specifically determine any latitudinal dependencies of the deposition to use as input for future work with atmospheric chemistry models.
Jin, QingxuMichigan State UniversityAdvancing Bendable MoonCrete and MarsCrete Technology for Long-term Human Exploration on the Moon and MarsAs NASA has the mission to achieve “long-term” human exploration, it is critical to build space-based infrastructure that can withstand the environmental challenges on both celestial bodies, utilizing the available local resources on the Moon and Mars. This proposal is to develop bendable MoonCrete and MarsCrete using 100% lunar and Martian regolith simulants under the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) concept. To achieve this goal, we will employ mechanical and thermal treatment to improve the simulants’ reactivity and identify the maximum use of the simulants. Furthermore, this proposal will explore the feasibility of eliminating the use of water in bendable MoonCrete and MarsCrete via geo-polymerization. With the successful development of bendable MoonCrete and MarsCrete, future research will focus on assessing the composite’s 3D printability to ensure NASA’s strategic interests in safe and reliable lunar and Martian infrastructure with long-term durability and resilience.
Karampagia, SofiaGrand Valley State UniversityAdvancing computational microscopic models for level densities to study the elemental abundances produced by the weak r-process.The knowledge of the origin and abundance distribution of the elements is critical for understanding the universe and its evolution. The r-process, involving reactions where neutrons are captured by nuclei, creates over half of elements beyond iron. To determine the solar r-process elemental abundance distribution, understanding neutron capture reaction rates is vital. Different astrophysical environments give rise to distinct r-processes – weak, intermediate, and main r-processes, with the weak r-process responsible for the creation of less massive elements. Because r-process nuclei decay rapidly, conducting neutron capture experiments is not feasible. Instead, theoretical models, including nuclear level densities (NLDs), are used to calculate neutron capture rates. Reliable microscopic NLD models are essential for this purpose. This project aims to enhance existing computational tools and create new codes for estimating microscopic NLDs in r-process nuclei. These NLDs will be instrumental in studying the impact on elemental abundances produced by the weak r-process.
Kling, GinaHope CollegeDeveloping Intuitive Multiplication Fact Strategies with Young StudentsThe learning of basic facts, or sums and products of numbers 0-10 and their related differences and quotients, has always been a high priority for elementary school teachers. Current standards documents (e.g., the Common Core State Standards) expect multiplication fact mastery by the end of third grade, a daunting task. In an attempt to help mitigate that challenge, this project will study the impact of using visual imagery in the form of Quick Looks with dots in equal grouping patterns to encourage second graders to develop informal multiplicative understandings and strategies. The study will consist of an intervention with approximately six lessons to be taught by the researchers in second grade classrooms during May 2024. Lessons will be video-recorded and pre-, post-, and retention assessment individual interviews will be conducted. Data analysis will involve looking for evidence of growth in intuitive multiplicative concepts and in informal strategy acquisition.
Kneeshaw, TaraGrand Valley State UniversitySheep Carbon: Composition Dynamics of Soil Carbon in Response to GrazingSoil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the largest and most reactive carbon reservoirs on the planet. Increasing SOC is a form of CO2 removal. Can sheep help increase SOC and balance the carbon budget to help mitigate climate change threats from increasing atmospheric CO2 and minimize the impacts of environmental change? Prescribed sheep grazing is becoming an increasingly affordable “mowing” option supporting climate action and net zero carbon initiatives, but little data exists that quantitatively evaluates the effectiveness of sheep grazing for improving soil carbon sequestration, due to challenges in directly measuring increases in SOC in response to new management practices. Yet, this information is necessary for achieving climate goals and restoring soil functions. This study in SW Michigan at a prescribed grazing site aims to quantify changes in functionally relevant soil fractions to evaluate the change in soil carbon dynamics in response to sheep grazing.
Leeper, SteveCentral Michigan UniversityAnimating Climate ChangeAnimators Stephan Leeper and Lindsay Robertson will collaborate to create short animations to inform the public about the pressing global impacts of climate change. Rather than using narrative to engage our subject we will animate “Living Data”. In other words, we will be using raw scientific modeling data to generate animated imagery. Our goal is to create a tangible, sensory and even visceral encounter with climate change, as a means to inform the public and empower them towards a meaningful response. The media generated can be presented to the public in a variety of formats, laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive public awareness campaign.
Liu, AnyiOakland UniversityReinforcing Resource-Constrained UAV with High-performance and Scalable LLM CohortsThe goal of this project is to design and implement an innovative framework for augmenting the capabilities of resource-constrained Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) through the deployment of a Large Language Model (LLM)-based sub-system for real-time network traffic and video analysis and the generation of operational commands. Utilizing LLMs fine-tuned through historical and live data, the UAV enables swift data-driven decision-making and optimizes UAV communications with onboard computing units. To successfully complete the project, three research objectives have been identified, including 1) optimizing resource allocation and model responsiveness for embedded systems; 2) enhancing fine-tuning efficiency through parallelism; and 3) creating a cohesive multi-domain LLM-cohort with autonomous coordination. This project aims to revolutionize UAV operations with onboard intelligence augmented in resource-limited environments and significantly increase UAVs' resilience and robustness in complex situations and under cyber-attacks, suitable for various applications, from IoT to critical infrastructure.
Martin, JeffreyHope CollegeMachine Learning to Advance Nondestructive Inspection and Evaluation with Compton Scatter TomographyCompton scatter tomography is a technique for non-invasively generating tomographic images of electron density in materials using Compton scattered gamma rays. Since electron density is an indicator of density or composition changes in a material this technique has the potential to advance nondestructive inspection and evaluation. The technique also has the advantage of allowing tomographic imaging from one side of a large object, unlike widely used computed tomography. The nonlinear integration paths inherent in Compton scatter tomography makes reconstructing images more challenging than computed tomography. This project will explore machine learning solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of Compton scatter tomography image reconstruction with the goal of advancing the use of this technique in nondestructive inspection and evaluation of materials that are difficult to image with current state of the art techniques such as computed tomography.
Santana, MichaelGrand Valley State UniversityAn Exploration of Cycle Structures in r-GraphsNetworks are the backbone of much of modern society. Everything from the internet, social media, biological interactions, and even artificial intelligence are each comprised of and modeled by networks. The prevalence of these networks over the years has assisted in the growth and maturity of a field of Mathematics known as Graph Theory, which focuses on a theoretical study of networks. In more recent years, a great deal of research has focused on attempting to understand even more general structures known as r-graphs, which have been used by some to model fundamental theories of physics and the structure of the universe in general. In this proposal, we present a project aligning with NASA's Strategic Objective 1.1 'Understand the Sun, Earth, Solar System, and Universe', that involves a well-known structural result on graphs and exploring potential analogues of this result in the realm of r-graphs.
Yang, AnkunOakland UniversityRapid Manufacturing of Sodium Metal AnodesSodium (Na) metal is an attractive anode material due to its low electrochemical potential, high specific capacity, and low cost. Controlling the thickness and quality of Na anodes is key to balancing the energy density, cost, safety, and cycle life of Na metal batteries. Common approaches for processing Na into thin films include mechanical deformation (> 50 µm) and physical vapor deposition (< 1 µm). There is a clear blind spot between these approaches, e.g., 5-50 µm, which is the desired thickness range of Na metal anodes to achieve optimal battery performance. This proposal aims to develop a rapid manufacturing technique – thermo-assisted spin coating - to process Na into thin-film anodes. With its low melting temperature (97.8C), we aim to melt Na and spin coat it into thin films. We will fundamentally understand the rheological properties of molten Na to enable rational control of the thin film thickness and quality.

Pre-College Educational Programs

Albaugh, BrittanyEastern Michigan UniversityHigh School Summer Research Experience at Eastern Michigan University 2024The Eastern Michigan University (EMU) Office of Graduate Studies and Research and faculty from multiple science departments (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc) 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 of the program costs.
Narayanan, KrishEastern 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 (EMU) and led by a faculty member. 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. The first offering of Gigabytes, in 2023, was a great success with an enrollment of 26 enthusiastic participants. We are hoping that MSGC will continue to help support and grow this program over the next few years.
Narayanan, KrishEastern 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 (EMU) and led by a faculty member. The camp was offered for the seventh time this year to a bigger class of thirty participants. MSGC has funded the camp for two years and we are hoping that it will continue to support this camp.
Thompkins, GeraldThe Engineering 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 majors 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.
Thompkins, GeraldThe Engineering Society of DetroitBoys in Engineering AcademyThe Boys in Engineering Academy (BEA) was created by The Engineering Society of Detroit in 2023 to be a hands-on, project-based STEM/ pre-engineering program for underrepresented minority middle school boys from Detroit. BEA 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 of various STEM and engineering disciplines and models. The program structure allows students to have the added benefit of small group interaction with male undergraduate and graduate engineering and STEM students, as instructors, and male engineers from industry who will 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. The overarching goal is to increase the representation of minority males and alleviate the disparity that currently exists in STEM and engineering education.

Public Outreach Educational Programs

Ambrose, BradleyGrand Valley State UniversityRoger That!Roger That! is a celebration of space exploration in honor of Grand Rapids astronaut Roger B. Chaffee. The two-day public symposium, organized by Grand Valley State University (GVSU) faculty and Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) staff, supports NASA’s public outreach goals, specifically Strategy 4.3 of its strategic plan, Science 2020 – 2024. The 2017 inaugural event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire that claimed Chaffee’s life. 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. Prof. Karen Gipson (GVSU Physics) served as Principal Investigator for all previous MSGC proposals; despite the change of PI to Prof. Bradley Ambrose (GVSU Physics), this proposal is a continuation grant for securing support for the 2025 symposium, along with special initiative funding for expanded outreach to underrepresented/minoritized K12 students.
Ross, PatrickUniversity of MichiganSimulating STEMLongway Planetarium respectively request $5,000 in funding supporting the development and execution of middle school outreach programs focused on science and technology. This will allow the organization to deliver educational content for middle school students at their schools or host institutions. Longway will meet NASA’s stratagems of Discover and Explore by securing the necessary technology to present programing to students in grades 6-8 that emphasizes the significance of a STEM degree to students in and around the greater Flint area. 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 2023-2024_Field Trip 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.
van Dijk, DeannaCalvin UniversityReaching Students with Science at a Strategic Moment: The Appeal of Earth Science Research on Lake Michigan DunesThe First-Year Research in Earth Sciences (FYRES) project stimulates STEM literacy and interest by targeting students at two strategic intervals in their education pathways: the first months of undergraduate education and later in undergraduate education when students are exploring their commitment to a STEM discipline. Student participants engage in authentic Earth system science research as they investigate questions focused on Lake Michigan coastal dunes. The process of learning about science by doing science includes communicating research results with scientists, dune managers, and the general public. Some FYRES participants go on to become scientifically-literate citizens who pursue vocations in business, humanities, education, etc., whereas other participants discover or confirm deeper interests in Earth sciences and other STEM disciplines. Participant, research, and outreach outcomes represent NASA and MSGC strategic interests well.

Teacher Training Educational Programs

Gage, MatthewGogebic Community CollegeCareer Development Pathway PLC in the Western U.P.Increasing the collaboration between regional industry professionals and local educators is critical in ensuring that regional employment needs are met with trained individuals entering into the workforce. This PLC aims to address the industry and employment needs of all 5 counties in the local region in an attempt to better prepare our students in the CTE program for immediate employment upon graduation. Through one day seminars, local educators will be introduced to industry professionals and become familiar with the employment opportunities available to the students they directly educate and mentor. Given the location of the region, many students are not afforded the opportunities to take a short field trip and experience the workforce firsthand. Better informing the educators who interact with these students on a regular basis of the local resources will in turn result in increased awareness to the students of the employment opportunities in their local areas.

Multiple Educational Programs

NameAffiliate/OrganizationTitle Abstract
Heraud, CynthiaCynthiaForsythe Middle School (Ann Arbor Public Schools)Our Place in Space (Bots for a purpose)
St. Onge, KevinKevinEastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District / Eastern Upper Peninsula MiSTEM RegionSpace is Looking U.P. with Go For Launch!
Webb, MariaMariaDAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program)Galaxy Academy at the University of Michigan & DAPCEP Teacher Training


The Michigan Space Grant Consortium is primarily funded through a NASA Training Grant.

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