Gannon Receives Two NASA Grants for Undergraduate Research

Posted: September 26, 2013

Gannon University received two grants from NASA for undergraduate research.

The first grant, worth $49,998, is for Gannon students to develop a device to detect high-energy particles from space called "cosmic rays." The project is led by Gannon professors Nicholas Conklin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the physics, and Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., associate professor in electrical and computer engineering.

NASA's Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) Educational Flight Opportunity Fund is financing the grant. As a result, an interdisciplinary team of Gannon's science and engineering undergraduate students will gain hands-on experience by designing and constructing a detector to measure cosmic rays. Once completed, the detector will be carried to an altitude of 120,000 feet by a high-altitude balloon for approximately a six-hour flight.

The second grant, totaling $20,000, was through the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium (PSGC) to engage underrepresented, undergraduate students in research in several of Gannon University's science and engineering laboratories.

The NASA/PSGC grant, which is financed through NASA's Space Grant Innovative Pilot in STEM Retention, involves seven Gannon professors in science and engineering disciplines that will collaborate to provide a prolonged and meaningful research experience to increase the retention rate of underrepresented students.

In addition to Lee, the Gannon professors in this effort include: Rick Diz, Ph.D., and Hwidong Kim, Ph.D., from environmental science and engineering; Steve Frezza, Ph.D., from software engineering; Elisa Konieczko, Ph.D., from biology; and Lin Zhao, Ph.D., and Qing Zheng, Ph.D., from electrical and computer engineering.

"I am very pleased that the NASA and the PSGC recognized Gannon as one of their partners for the efforts to improve the retention rate of underrepresented students in STEM fields," Lee said. "I am sure our students will greatly benefit from this grant and from the efforts of the Gannon professors involved."