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UHP's Astronaut Scholars Honored

October 22, 2015

Colonel Robert Cabana (Director, Kennedy Space Center) was on campus this week to present the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship to two UHP students—Rachel Soble (Biochemistry, Computer Science) and Sammy Shaker (Chemistry, Mathematics).

The $10,000 scholarship is awarded to undergraduates with excellent academic records and research experience who have shown initiative, creativity, and excellence in the fields of engineering, mathematics, or the natural or applied sciences.

Soble and Shaker have both been named Goldwater Scholars in the past (Soble in 2014 and Shaker in 2015), and both talked about the excitement of being involved in meaningful scientific research. Sammy is interested in discovering more efficient ways to produce solar energy, and has worked consistently in Dr. Andreas Stein's lab, while Rachel has been developing an enthusiasm for the field of computational biology and has worked in Dr. Jeffrey Gralnick's lab.

The scholarships were presented in front of Professor Marco Peloso's Physics 1401V class, and Col. Cabana fielded a variety of student questions about space travel and NASA's current priorities. Exploration and colonization of Mars was the hot topic, of course.

"We are making The Martian real," said Cabana. While the Hall-of-Fame astronaut had a few scientific bones to pick with the recent Matt Damon flick, Cabana clearly prioritized Mars while referencing Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle astronaut John Young's assertion that single-planet species are vulnerable to extinction. "We want to pioneer our solar system," Cabana said, "and Mars is the first step."

The Astronaut Scholarship is administered on campus by the Office for National and International Scholarships. Faculty nomination is required, and applications are typically due February of each year. Contact for additional information.