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June 22, 2004
CONTACT: Carol Anderson

Four EMU students receive NASA fellowships


YPSILANTIThe mysteries of Earth and its atmosphere will have fewer secrets thanks to four Eastern Michigan University students who have received NASA /Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) Fellowships for 2004-2005. 

Undergraduate students Sandra Wilson, of Belleville; James Parzych, of Brighton; and Joshua Miller, of Tecumseh; each received $2,500 while graduate student Peter Distelzweig, of Ann Arbor, was awarded $5,000.

            “We are very proud of the MSGC fellows from EMU. They represent what our University has to offer in service to the strategic interests of our nation,” said James Sheerin, EMU professor of physics and director of NASA/MSGC-EMU. 

The one-year fellowships were awarded to only 28 students statewide. The four EMU research projects will examine topics ranging from movement of the Earth’s surface to the outer reaches of its atmosphere.

            Wilson’s project, “Interactive Earth,” will be a computer model that allows K-12 students to interactively see the changes that have occurred over the last 200 million years due to continental drift. With this program, students can see how South America and Africa changed from one land mass to become two separate continents.

Parzych’s topic, “RF-Stimulated Ionospheric Irregularities,” studies irregularities in the ionosphere using high-frequency radars in Alaska and ultra high-frequency radars at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The ionosphere is the outer most region of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Shore-based high-frequency radars can be used to map ocean surface currents.

Miller’s project, “Plasma Kinetics in an Ion Thruster Plasma Environment,” is experimental research designed to improve ion propulsion systems used by NASA in spacecraft.

Distelzweig’s project, “Communicating the Nature of Scientific Practice in Introductory Astronomy Courses,” researches the current philosophy of science and whether it agrees with material in school textbooks.

The EMU students will present their preliminary results at the annual MSGC conference Oct. 16 at the University of Michigan. All interested students are invited to attend free of charge.

            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.

For further information, contact EMU’s James Sheerin, 734.487.8793.


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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