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June 9 , 2004
CONTACT: Carol Anderson

EMU physics student awarded $3,500; invited to research ionosphere

YPSILANTI —Eastern Michigan University physics student Joshua Miller, of Tecumseh, is getting a little help in reaching for the stars. Miller recently won two awards to help continue his education in physics.

He received a 2004-2005 Leadership Scholarship for $1,000 from the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and a $2,500 NASA /Michigan Space Grant Consortium Fellowship for 2004-2005. In addition, he has been invited to attend the Arecibo Observatory Radio Science Summer School in Puerto Rico to study the ionosphere.

“He is an amazing student,” said Diane Jacobs, EMU professor of physics and SPS adviser. “Josh took over the presidency of SPS in an amazing way.”

When the SPS president left EMU in mid-year, Miller stepped up and assumed the responsibilities of the presidency, said Jacobs. His leadership skills became evident as he proceeded to raise money for the local chapter and increase its activity level, she said.  Miller was recently voted 2004-2005 SPS president.

Miller, an EMU senior, became interested in physics after taking his first required class. He was amazed at how much physics challenged him, he said,  In the future, he plans to attend graduate school and eventually teach physics. But for now, Miller has a full schedule this summer.

Currently, Miller has been chosen by the University of Michigan to live on campus and do undergraduate research on high-energy physics. He will be looking for new particles and discovering how they act, said Jacobs.

Also this summer, Miller plans to accompany EMU physics professors James Sheerin and James Carroll to Puerto Rico and assist them with ionosphere research using the world’s largest telescope at the Arecibo Observatory.   The ionosphere is the outer most region of the Earth’s atmosphere that provides long-range capabilities for commercial ship-to-shore communications, trans-oceanic aircraft links, and military communication and surveillance systems.

Miller’s project, funded by the NASA/Michigan Space Grant Consortium, will be “Plasma Kinetics in an Ion Thruster Plasma Environment."This experimental research is designed to improve ion propulsion systems used by NASA in spacecraft.

The NASA/Michigan Space Grant Consortium offers fellowships to students in aerospace; space science; Earth system science; and other related science, engineering or mathematics fields.

Preference is given to projects directly related to aerospace, space science and Earth system science.

The Society of Physics Students scholarship encourages the study of physics, high academic performance and active participation in SPS programs.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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