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NASA College Scholarship Fund Alumni 

Where are they now?

The NASA College Scholarship Fund has had the privilege of sponsoring our college graduates in their educational endeavors. We are proud to share some of their accomplishments.

John Birmingham – 1985

John received his Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics from U.C. Berkeley in 1996. From 1996-2000, he was a post-doc in the Department of Biology at Brandeis University . Since 2000, John has been an assistant professor of physics at Santa Clara University . His research interest is computational neuroscience.

Timothy Boykin – 1985

Dr. Timothy Bruce Boykin received the NASA College Scholarship for academic years 1985-87.  He has earned the following Electrical Engineering degrees:  B.S.E.E., summa cum laude, Rice University , 1987; M.S., Stanford University , 1988; and Ph.D., Stanford University , 1992. Since receiving the Ph.D., he has been a Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), Associate Professor (August 1997-present; tenured August 1998), Assistant Professor (September 1992-August 1997).  He has received 6 academic awards, including election to Phi Beta Kappa; is a referee for over 6 scientific journals; and is a member of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.  In 2001, he won the UAH Foundation Research Award in Applied Research.  He holds jointly 2 patents, has published 46 refereed journal articles, and authored two book and encyclopedia chapters.  Both government and industry have supported his research.  His first-author refereed journal articles alone have been cited 236 times by other authors.

Peter Shawhan - 1986

Peter Shawhan attended Washington University in St. Louis , where he held an Arthur Holly Compton Fellowship, majored in physics, and graduated summa cum laude in 1990. He was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and went to the University of Chicago , where he joined a particle physics experiment and spent several years developing and assembling parts of the detector, collecting data, and analyzing it.

He received a number of honors and completed his Ph.D. dissertation in 1999. He then went to Caltech as a Millikan Prize Postdoctoral Fellow and joined the LIGO project, which has constructed large laser interferometers capable of detecting gravitational waves from distant astrophysical objects. Now a senior staff scientist at Caltech, Shawhan devotes most of his time to analyzing LIGO data. Besides numerous articles in scientific journals, he recently wrote an article for a more general audience, "Gravitational Waves and the Effort to Detect Them," which appears in the July/August 2004 issue of American Scientist magazine.

Christopher T. Bauch - 1991

Chris Bauch graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (class of '94) with a B.S. in Physics, as the Dean's Honored Graduate. After graduation, he was awarded the General George C. Marshall Scholarship for study in England and elected to attend Cambridge University in Cambridge , England . At Cambridge , he was awarded a Diploma (Master's Degree) in Divinity and a Diploma in Theoretical Physics.

Next, he attended the University of Warwick in Coventry , England where in 2000 he was awarded a Ph. D. in Applied Mathematics, with an emphasis on Mathematical Epidemiology. Following a three-year stint as a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster University he took up a full-time position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada where he does research in the mathematics of disease control, and teaches mathematics. He travels to various conferences to present papers on disease control and has had occasional radio interviews on that topic.

Matthew E. Clark - 1992

Upon graduation in 1997 from the University of Central Florida with an Electrical Engineering degree, Matt took a job with United Space Alliance (USA) at Johnson Space Center and worked as a software engineer in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. (SAIL) He later transferred to Mission Control Center (MCC) Workstation Applications, where he worked on 2D and 3D graphical orbital simulations. Matt followed this job as a Lockheed Martin employee on the CSOC and MSOC contracts. Matt continues perform software engineering with the orbital simulation software in the MCC, and also works on applications in the Integrated Planning System. (IPS)

Michelle Povilnelli – 1993

Dr. Michelle L. Povinelli graduated with an Honors degree in Physics from University of Chicago in 1997. In 1997, she was selected for the Churchill Fellowship, an award given to ten American students per year to study at the University of Cambridge, U.K. She received an M. Phil. in Physics from the University of Cambridge in 1998 and a Ph. D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004. She was awarded several graduate fellowships for her doctoral work, including the Lucent Technologies GRPW Fellowship, the NSF Graduate Fellowship, and the MIT Karl Taylor Compton Fellowship. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University , working in the area of photonics. She has published over ten technical papers and holds one US Patent.

Gil Alterovitz – 1994

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering in 1998, Gil Alterovitz went to Canada upon winning the Fulbright Scholarship. At the University of Toronto , he did Bioinformatics research under Prof. Chris W. Hogue and studied at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. He then went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an NDSEG Fellow. Gil Alterovitz is currently finishing up his PhD in the Harvard/MIT Health Science and Technology division-Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department as a Whitaker Fellow. His research involves signal processing and machine learning methods for proteomics and mass spectrometry technologies. As part of his research, he initiated the collaboration between Mathworks (Matlab) and Harvard Medical School-Children’s Hospital that was recently formalized through a bilateral agreement. This winter, he will be the course director and instructor for a class at MIT (6.092) that he initially proposed to the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department (on bioinformatics and proteomics). It will also feature professors from three universities as well as industry speakers. He has over 20 academic publications, technical articles, and presentations that have appeared or are in-press. Gil Alterovitz is very grateful to the NASA College Scholarship Fund for its generous support toward his university education.

Clark Bailey – 1994

Clark Bailey graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Physics in 1996 (Phi Beta Kappa with honors) and received his M.S. degree in Philosophy in 1997. He began a Ph.D. program at Rockefeller University in Neuroscience in 1997. He left in 1998 and joined a Wall Street firm as an analyst, then proceeded to become an investor. After 3 years he started his own company and has since worked independently (although his old company is one of his clients). He then took a year off to travel the world, and is now in Buenos Aires planning to buy an apartment complex and also run a small import business. Clark ’s mother, who also has a Physics degree, hopes he will settle down in the States sometime soon.

Sara Elizabeth Blanchard - 1994

Sara graduated Summa Cum Laude from George Washington University, Washington DC , with a degree in Biology in 1997. Sara has been a high school Biology teacher at the Potomac School , a private K-12 school outside Washington D.C. , for seven years and is also the varsity coach for the Girls Soccer team.

Katherine A. Douglass - 1994

After attending Villanova University for her undergraduate education, Katherine continued her science education path at Georgetown Medical School . She graduated from medical school in June 2002, and moved to Philadelphia for residency in Emergency Medicine. She is now in her final year of residency training at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Michael Douglass – 1994

Michael received one of the bonus scholarships in 1994, halfway through his undergraduate career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .  He graduated in with Honors in May 1996 with a B.S. in Chemistry.  Michael then went directly to graduate school in chemistry at Northwestern University in September 1996, and completed a PhD working with Professor Tobin Marks in Organometallic Chemistry.  He graduated in June 2001, and started work at ExxonMobil Research & Engineering in Paulsboro , NJ . He has been there 3.5 years and counting. 

Michael is married and has two “curly-headed” children.

Robert M. Haas - 1994

Robert Michael Haas graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University in 1998 with a B.A in Computer Science and is currently living in Delaware with his wife Katherine and their daughter Ann.

For the past 2 years, he has been working for TekConnect Corporation in Cherry Hill , NJ as a senior application developer working primarily on the development of network monitoring software designed for use in K-12 schools. Prior to working at TekConnect, Robert worked as a Senior Network Operations Engineer at Akamai Technologies in Cambridge , Massachusetts , where he helped administer Akamai's network of more than 10,000 servers and wrote diagnostic and configuration management software.

Dr. Wilson J. Liao - 1994

Wilson Liao graduated from Harvard University in 1998 with a B.S. in Biochemistry.  After graduation, Wilson continued his graduate study at Harvard Medical School from 1998 to 2003, including a yearlong research at the National Institute of Health (NIH).  During this period he received numerous awards such as Harvard Medical Linnane Scholarship for Academic Excellence & Community Leadership,  Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, American Association for Cancer Research Astra-Zeneca Scholar-In-Training Award, and Paul Dudley White Traveling Fellowship to Thailand .  

In addition, he is very active in the community service/outreach activities.  He has been the Founder and/or Director of many community service programs including Martha Eliot Health Center Minority Youth Mentoring Program, Manville Mentoring Program at Judge Baker Children's Center, and Music in Hospitals and Nursing Homes Using Entertainment as Therapy (MIHNUET).  In 2000, he was invited as a guest speaker at the Massachusetts Medical Society Meeting on Community Action.  He graduated from Harvard Medical School in June of 2003, and is currently working as a resident doctor at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Hospital.

Mark Perantie - 1994

Mark Perantie graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Oklahoma in 1996 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics. After graduation he worked as an electrical engineer at Symbios Logic in Wichita , KS , writing embedded software for redundant hard-drive controllers. He then worked for six years as an electrical engineer at Telstrat in Plano , TX , writing embedded software for voice over Internet protocol devices and digital loop carriers. He is now a first year student at Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law in Dallas . He plans to pursue a career in intellectual property law.

Elaine Thomas Bailey– 1994

Elaine graduated Cum Laude from Duke University in 1996 with a double major in Biology and Psychology. As a break from study before graduate school, she worked in Atlanta , GA , in a sleep lab for nearly 3 years. She then moved to Tucson , AZ , where she enrolled at the University of Arizona (U of A) and earned a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Elaine is now working on her PhD in the same field.

She is interested in teaching at the college level and has taught a course on Death and Dying at U of A. Elaine married in 1999, to R. Reid Bailey, and now uses the name Elaine Thomas Bailey. The Bailey’s daughter, Julia, was born August 9, 2004 .

Susan C. Wang – 1994

After obtaining her BS in Biology at Case Western Reserve University in May 1998, Susan moved to Austin , Texas , where she enrolled as a graduate student in the Division of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Texas . Under the advisement of Dr. Christian P. Whitman, she focused on the evolution of enzymatic activities. In May 2003, she successfully defended her dissertation, entitled "Studies of Bacterial Catabolic Enzymes: Implications for the Evolution of Enzymes and Metabolic Pathways" then moved to Madison , Wisconsin , in June to become a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Biochemistry Department. In April 2004, her dissertation won one of the "Outstanding Dissertation Awards" from the University of Texas at Austin . Susan is currently working on methods for directed enzyme evolution to improve biological activities that may be useful for industrial processes.

Emily Carter Paulson – 1995

Emily Carter Paulson (she goes by "Carter") was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA) in 1999 with a degree in Biochemistry. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Medicine in 2003 and is currently a second year surgical resident at the UPenn Hospital .  She is married to Mr. Gregory B. David, also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UVA and a 2004 graduate of Penn Law. He is currently a law clerk for Anthony J. Scirica, Chief Judge of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Carter is still and avid golfer, runner and skier although not as much as she would like.  

Allison Lanier – 1996

Allison Langford Lanier Hennigan received graduated from the University of Texas in December 2000 with a BS in Psychology.  Allison entered the MD program at UT, Medical Branch in Galveston, graduating June, 2005, in Neurology.  She will complete her internship and residency at the University of Pittsburgh Hospital beginning June, 2005.

Neelaksh Varshney - 1996

Neelaksh Varshney graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2000 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a GPA of 4.0. In 2000, Neelaksh was selected as the first Rhodes scholar from UAB. Being a Rhodes scholar allowed him to earn a master’s degree in Neuroscience and study Mathematics while at Oxford University . Additionally, he was one of twenty college students chosen for USA Today’s “All USA College Academic First Team”. 

In 2002, Neelaksh was named a recipient of the Paul & Daisy Soros Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded annually to 30 accomplished new Americans (i.e., green card holders, naturalized U.S. citizens, or children of naturalized U.S. citizens) to help them achieve leadership in their chosen fields and partake of “the American dream.” Currently, Neelaksh is in the 3 rd year at Harvard Medical School in the Harvard/MIT Health Science and Technology (HST) MD program.

Ron Alterovitz – 1997

Ron Alterovitz completed his undergraduate education at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in June 2001, which was made possible by generous funding from the NASA College Scholarship Fund. After receiving the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and an NDSEG Fellowship, he continued his education at the graduate level. Ron obtained his M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research in 2003 and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California at Berkeley . His main research interest is applying optimization and physical simulation methods to medical robotics, with a focus on developing path planning algorithms for medical needle insertion procedures such as biopsies or brachytherapy radioactive seed implantations for treating prostate cancer. His research has been presented at 6 conferences, covering both engineering and medical audiences, and has been published in 5 proceedings, including a paper on sensorless planning for medical needle insertion that was one of 7 finalists for Best Paper out of over 1,000 submissions at the 2003 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). After completing his Ph.D. at Berkeley , Ron plans to continue his research at a university or government research lab. Ron is grateful to the NASA College Scholarship Fund for helping him make progress toward his academic and research goals.

Katie Lynn Davis – 1998

Katie L. Davis graduated from the University of Alabama in May 2001, with Bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Quantitative Finance. She is currently enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of  Alabama in Birmingham  and plans to complete her MD, PhD training in 2010.

Jennifer Kiessling - 1999

Jennifer received a NASA Scholarship at Marshall in 1999.  She graduated with a B. S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Alabama in 2001, and is now in her 4th year of Medical School at UAB in Birmingham.

Megan Madaras - 1999

Megan Madaras is currently a first year medical student at University of Virginia .  She finished her BS and MS degrees in Biomedical Engineering in the spring of 2004.

Minghan Leo Tsay - 1999

Minghan Leo Tsay is currently a second year medical student (Class of 2007) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a member of various national and school-specific medical student societies/activities. Leo entered medical school right after graduating with Honors from the Johns Hopkins University in 2003 as a double major, B.S. in Biology and Psychology. 

This NCSF Alumni was also a Hodson Trust Merit Scholar, National Merit Scholar, Maryland Distinguished Scholar, and James C. Byrd Scholar, as well as a member/officer in Phi Beta Kappa, Biology (TriBeta), Psychology (PsiChi), and Pre-Medical (AED) Honor Societies during his undergraduate years at Johns Hopkins.

Derek Juang – 2000

After graduating cum laude from Duke University in 2003, Derek worked at CGI-AMS, an IT Consulting firm, for a year. At CGI-AMS, he helped provide companies with software solutions to streamline their businesses. He is currently pursuing an MD/MBA dual degree at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor , MI .