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SaSa Learning Activities
Students of the 2022 SaSa class stand in a cockpit, learning from a NASA airman as part of a training module. Module 1
The first module starts with a two-week introductory summer workshop at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Howard University Beltsville Campus research facility in Beltsville, Maryland Immediately after the workshop, there is a one-week, hands-on training on remote sensing/satellite application to disaster monitoring (ex. smoke from forest fires, volcanic plumes, desert dust storms, chemical spills, tornadoes and hurricanes, etc.) using the Direct Broadcast System Antenna Receiving and Data Analyses System at Hampton University. Module 2
Students participate in a three-week field deployment based out of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, where participants will be involved in all aspects of a scientific field campaign; from detailed planning for achieving mission objectives to flying on NASA aircraft and assisting in instrument operation and field validation at selected sites. Module 3
The final module is focused on processing and analyzing the collected field data and presenting early results to peers, mentors, and other stakeholders based at UMBC. Participants are provided academic advisement and mentorship support until graduation, to help improve student retention and assure timely progress to graduation.
Last Updated Nov 22, 2023 Related Terms
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SaSa NASA Partners
NASA Langley Aerosol Research Group (LARGE) LARGE specializes in making in situ aerosol and cloud measurements and conducting research to improve understanding of atmospheric aerosols and their interactions with water vapor. LARGE aims to contribute directly to NASA and the Langley Science Directorate goals of translating atmospheric discovery into better solutions to protect the Earth and its people. This is accomplished through investments in people and infrastructure, technology development, and stewardship/dissemination of high-quality data during scientific missions like DISCOVER-AQ and SEAC4RS. To learn more, check out the LARGE website. Research Group
The research group supporting the SaSa program includes:
Ali Omar Richard Moore Luke Ziemba NASA Langley Aerosol Research Group (LARGE) Members Instrumentation
Below is a snapshot of instruments and tools Langley uses to support SaSa student projects and the summer airborne science campaigns. More information can be found on the NASA Langley Aerosol Research Group (LARGE) Instruments page.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has unique assets – aircraft, aircraft sensors and experts – to help create an effective learning environment for students.
GSFC scientists and engineers support the SaSa program, especially in the maintenance of the CAR instrument. The CAR was designed and operated at NASA GSFC until August 2022, when it was transferred to NASA Ames Research Center. This team is lead by:
Dong Wu, NASA Goddard co-I for the SaSa program Research team including Mariel Frieberg. Share
Last Updated Nov 21, 2023 Related Terms
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SaSa Class of 2022
What is your current major and university? My name is Annalyse Belton and I am a 2nd-year Biology major at Coppin State University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I applied to SaSa to gain more experience in the scientific field and build on my foundational knowledge.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over this summer I would like to gain hands-on experience in innovative research. I also want to collaborate with peers, graduates, and other staff to develop skills in teamwork and communication.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself would have to be my resilience, the ability to give perspective in situations, and my cheery personality.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone that I admire is my mother. One of the most important messages she has told me is to always have an inquisitive mind. To always expand my knowledge and research questions that I have on my own. She is a strong, educated woman in my life who has shaped me into the woman I am today.
What is your current major and university? I am currently completing my second year of my bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering at Hampton University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to SASA because this opportunity will grant me the chance to engage with professional NASA engineers and scientists through interdisciplinary research in earth and geological sciences, and provide a networking opportunity for more internships similar to this one.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer I hope to have advanced my understanding of geological science and skills on experimental instrumentation to allow me to master designing and conducting experiments while working with a team of future scientists and engineers.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My favorite attributes about myself are my witty personality, problem solving skills, and determination.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone I admire would be Vice President Kamala Harris. I admire her mainly due to her success as a black woman in American politics. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCUs, are overlooked by Ivy league colleges, they are stigmatized. And yet, HBCUs produce the most successful and intelligent people into society today. VP Harris attended Howard University in Washington D.C, also an HBCU, and has a successful political career in a white-male dominated field of profession. Throughout all struggles and doubts, she became the first VP lady of power in American history. I relate to her story because I am also attending an HBCU and I’m planning a career in a white-male dominated field. Stories similar to VP Harris motivates me to keep pushing through all odds; you never know what you can be unless you believe in yourself.
What is your current major and university? I am Muyang Chunga, a Biology major with a Pre-PA concentration at Coppin State University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I applied to SaSa as I am currently one of the lead researchers of my undergraduate university’s Laboratory of Environmental Containments, which has led to profound interests in the specialty of environmental sciences. This opportunity will provide first-hand experience in an area of study I am considering pursuing.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the span of the summer I hope to solidify my educational studies in the area of environmental sciences, as well as develop the skills necessary to successfully complete my studies, build connections, and mentorship that I can carry for the rest of my journey.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? Three things I can deeply admire about myself are: my compassion, my passion for knowledge, and my ability to keep myself grounded when challenging circumstances arise.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone I hold deep admiration for is my mom. From Cameroon, to where I am now, she has always been my number one supporter and the best role model. From repeating her bachelor’s education to be able to continue her education after moving to the United States — while caring for young children — to now having a high paying job with the government that was not in her original field of studies. My mom showed me a sliver of what I could achieve and how to get there. She deserves all my praise and more.
What is your current major and university? My major is Aviation Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I enjoy learning new things by getting hands-on experience and engaging with others. SaSa was a great option for me because it provides participation in fundamental lectures in Earth, Atmospheric, and Airborne Sciences as well as engaging and hands-on research opportunities. I was also drawn to this program because it includes flying on-board a NASA research aircraft.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? I would like to learn and work alongside other students as well as professors and mentors. I hope to make lifelong connections and network with like-minded people.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? Three things I admire about myself has to be my calmness, resilience, and kindness.
Who is someone you admire and why? The person I admire most is my dad. I admire his work ethic, hard work, and dedication to every part of his life. He has passed many challenges in his life to get to where he is today. Hearing his childhood story makes me believe that hard work goes a long way.
What is your current major and university? My major is Industrial Engineering and I go to Morgan State University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I applied to to SaSa because I wanted to try something new. I enjoy using different kinds of equipment, so being part of SaSa is an opportunity to see what equipment NASA engineers use daily.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? I hope to find something I can see myself doing in the future. I also want to meet new people from NASA and other universities.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? I enjoy opportunites to use diffferent equipment/tools such as woodworking. When I work onsomething, I stay organized because it’s easier to find what I need. Lastly, I learn things very quickly.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone I admire is George Washington Carver. He was born into slavery around Civil War. His father died in an accident before he was born. He lost both his mother and sister to slave raiders. Carver was also to frail to work in the fields. Despite all this, he became the first African-American with a Bachelor of Science degree and invented many agriculture products.
What is your current major and university? I am a rising sophomore pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering at University of Maryland: Baltimore County.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I heard about the SaSa opportunity through one of my university professors. I decided to apply because atmospheric and earth science is a field of study I haven’t looked much into. I see this as a unique chance to expose myself to the field and to explore new possibilities for what to do with my degree in the future.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? This summer, I want to get to know a lot of unique people in our SaSa cohort. I would like to spend this summer making meaningful connections with my peers and with the mentors and researchers I will work with. I’d also like to get to know the kind of work aligning myself with NASA in the future would entail. Finally, I’m looking forward to working on a research project for the first time.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My favorite things about myself are my craftiness, sense of humor, and calm temperament. Those three qualities often get me smoothly through tricky situations.
Who is someone you admire and why? One of the people I admire most is my dad. Though he isn’t with us anymore, I can always look around and see the fruits of his many years of hard work to get through a really difficult life. I admire all he has done for me and the impact he had on many other people, and I aspire to be like him in that aspect.
Trisha Joy Utulo Francisco
What is your current major and university? I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to SaSa because it is an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the research world. I get to learn how engineering and the geoscience communities interact with one other. The opportunity to work with instruments, like satellites and disaster monitoring is exciting for me, because I get hands-on experience. I also loved that SaSa offers mentorship, because having guidance and wisdom of a mentor is valuable. I would be lucky to have that as I’m taking my first steps in forming my engineering career.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer, I would like to learn how the Direct Broadcast System works and learn how to analyze and interpret the data from these instruments. I want to gain understanding of the research SaSa is doing and be able to present it in a way that excites others.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are my optimism, my appreciation of the relationships I form with others, and my motivation — which stems from my curiosity for the future. I like being curious and optimistic because it encourages me to explore outside my comfort zone and grow as a person. I also enjoy meeting people because friendships creates a path to gain a new perspective of the world.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire my parents because they have sacrificed so much just to give me the opportunity to go to college. They taught me the value of education and how I can use it to navigate my way through the world. I admire my parents because despite the struggles we have faced, they remain optimistic for our future and have shown me that failures and struggles act as a catalyst for a great story.
What is your current major and university? I am a second year student at UC Davis as an Environmental Science and Management major and a Spanish minor.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I have always had a fascination with NASA and space exploration. As far back as I remember my dad and I would always watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos together. A goal of mine is to work for NASA eventually. When I saw the SaSa program I knew I had to apply. As more of my interests have shifted to the realm of environmentalism, I am extremely excited to be collecting and analyzing measurements aboard the aircraft regarding climate data.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Through this program I hope to familiarize myself with the advanced technology used to conduct Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric research. Additionally I would like to gain a deep understanding of the research process and am thrilled at the opportunity to create and research a subject of my own choosing.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are that I am friendly, hardworking, and curious.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire my parents as they are very hardworking, supportive and compassionate. They have taught me to challenge myself and are always there for me.
What is your current major and university? I am a Mechanical Engineering Major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to SaSa because of how it stood out from other programs with their focus on hands-on research and individual mentorship.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? This summer I would like to learn skills that will prepare me for graduate research and what a career as a research engineer entails.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favourite things about myself are that I am a fast learner, I learn from my mistakes, and when I have a goal I am committed to achieving it.
Who is someone you admire and why? One person I admire is my abuela because she believed in the power of education and she sacrificed so much so that I can have the opportunities that I have today.
What is your current major and university? I am currently double majoring in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Davis.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to SaSa because I was fascinated by the amazing opportunities that the program offered, such as working with NASA scientists and professors from prestigious universities. The research aspect drew me in as well because I have been wanting to get my hands on a research project and gain knowledge on what it’s like. SaSa’s mission to increase the number of STEM graduates from underrepresented backgrounds is also what gained my attention to the program, as I too believe that there is a need for a diverse group of people in the STEM field.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer, I would like to make new connections with professors/researchers and my peers that will be working alongside me. Everyone will be coming from different backgrounds and has their own areas of interest, which would make for a great time getting to know everyone. Another thing I’d like to accomplish is presenting my research to a group of people. This is something I have never done and I am looking forward to the process of creating my presentations. Finally, I’d also like to explore some of the cities on the East Coast that we will be traveling to and see all that they have to offer.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are my sense of humor, my willingness to help others, and my ability to communicate well with others. I like to laugh a lot and having a good sense of humor can brighten anyone’s day up, as laughter is contagious. I also like to help others. There are times when I need help, and there is always someone for me. Why not return the favor? Helping someone even just one time might just change their life forever. Moving on to communicating, laughter and helping can’t be done without communication. Communication is vital to everyday life. Without it, nothing will get done. By communicating well, I can make people laugh, help them, and even ask for help myself.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone who I admire would have to be Tanya Whitlow. I admire her because she gave me the best advice that I will never forget. Her advice was to “learn how to learn”. I heard this during my first year of college. Tanya was the Program Director for a UC Davis program called Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention (LEADR). She was a mentor of mine and was always preparing me for what is to come as an engineering student. Unfortunately, Tanya passed away earlier this year due to cancer. Although Tanya is gone, her legacy will not be forgotten. I will continue to use her advice all throughout college and in life.
What is your current major and university? I am currently at Morgan State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a minor in French. Simultaneously, I’m also pursuing a Private Pilot License at Middle River Flight Center.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I was looking for opportunities that will benefit my future and opportunities closely related to my passions – engineering and aviation. Working with NASA, no matter the position, is undoubtedly a dream for many, myself included. I could not let this opportunity pass. My career goal is to be both electrical engineer and a professional pilot. Applying to this internship puts me one step closer to achieving this goal. I have often heard the phrase: “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” I can undoubtedly picture a future in which I will thank myself for applying to this internship.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Throughout this program I hope to develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences that will aid in my success as an electrical engineer and a professional pilot. Engineering is a skill that requires time and patience to master. As such, engaging in activities which revolves around the professional development of students, as well as focusing on NASA specific skills, is the best way to ensure that I am receiving the best training to prepare me to work with NASA in the future as an engineer.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are: my determination to achieve my goals; my curiosity, as I always seek to learn new things and expand my horizon; and my ambition.
Who is someone you admire and why? The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, indeed. I owe all my accomplishments to my parents, the characteristics that define me the most I inherited from them. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the sacrifices of my parents, I have undying love and admiration for them.
What is your current major and university? I am currently an Environmental Sciences major at the University of California, Riverside. I hope to declare a concentration in Atmospheric Sciences in my third year of university.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to SaSa because I was interested in conducting field research in the geosciences and learning about everything it entails. As an aspiring environmental scientist, my goal is to gain as much technical experience as possible as I prepare for graduate studies and, hopefully, mitigating environmental issues as a whole.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? I would like to work on a research project that I will be proud of and explore the different aspects of earth/atmospheric/oceanic sciences in depth. I also look forward to forming valuable connections with my peers and mentors throughout my journey at SaSa.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are: my curiosity for understanding the universe we live in, my attention to detail, and my willingness to take initiative.
Who is someone you admire and why? My parents are people who I greatly admire. Despite having immigrated to the United States during times of hardship, they were both able to accomplish many incredible things throughout their lives. They have shown me nothing but resilience and have inspired me to reach greater heights in all aspects of my life.
What is your current major and university? Aviation Management from Hampton University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I love anything environmental, and I want to travel and be around like-minded individuals.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? I would like to develop professional skills such as public speaking and research skills.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about me are my personality, hair, and food choices.
Who is someone you admire and why? My mom because she is working full time and getting her doctorates at the same time.
What is your current major and university? I am a biology major at Coppin State University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I’m used to working in labs so data collection is nothing new to me. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone more. NASA seemed like an interesting opportunity to see if I could develop a new passion for something I had never tried before. Also getting to fly on a NASA aircraft is a huge plus!
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Aside from this internship, I want to accomplish relaxation. Working non-stop in school, even on the weekends, is stressful. I would appreciate a break. I want to see if I can start learning sign language again.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? I like that even though I procrastinate at times I still never fail to get my work done by deadlines. I also like that I can look at things optimistically. Lastly, I like that I value my sleep.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire my parents for being able to come to a foreign country and make their own lives. I cannot imagine doing what they did at my age.
What is your current major and university? I am a sophomore majoring in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I’ve decided to apply to SaSa because I believed it would be a good opportunity to get more exposure to the field of engineering. Plus, this is my first time applying for an internship.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? I would like to gain knowledge in the engineering field and I would like to accomplish personal goals for myself, such as getting a car.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are I am caring, I make sure that everyone else around me is okay; my perseverance, I try to figure things out even if I get frustrated I never give up; lastly, my enthusiasm towards things I do. I believe I am a perfectionist which I am okay with because I like to do the best that I can. I love learning new things.
Who is someone you admire and why? My mom is someone who I admire a lot because she is a hard worker. I witnessed her raise my siblings and myself as a single mother for a few years. We all are becoming successful as we continue our lives. She raised us well and taught us to love one another, as she didn’t grow up with any siblings.
What is your current major and university? University of California-Riverside in Statistics.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I applied to SaSa to build a portfolio that will hopefully land me into a fully-funded graduate program. I aspire to become part of the NASA Pathways Program and hope this program will help me in pursuit of a career at NASA.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? My hometown San Bernardino, in California, has a lot of pollution. I am curious about aerosol particles. I am not sure of what I’ll be working on this summer, but I hope to expand my knowledge in this field.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? Three qualities I like about myself are: my interest in helping others find meaning, creativity in designing solutions, and my love for cats!
Who is someone you admire and why? The person who I admire the most is my mother. After high school I went straight to work in my family’s restaurant. After a while I became miserable, having no free time for myself. I wanted to give up on school and dedicate more time at the shop, but my mother believed in me and encouraged me to strive for something greater.
Camila Hernández Pedraza
What is your current major and university? My current major is Natural Sciences with a Concentration in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico Cayey Campus.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I have always been interested in participating in all possible internships related to scientific exploration to gain knowledge and academic and professional preparation. It will help me acquire new skills and expertise in terms of research work. In addition, it will provide education and experiences that I will carry with me both professionally and personally. My stated goals entail much experience; therefore, ideally before pursuing a master’s degree and Ph.D. in science is for me to gain prior research knowledge. I do not doubt that this opportunity will open doors to achieve what I have longed for.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? What I would like to accomplish over the summer is to obtain different skills and abilities with scientific instrumentation, data analysis, communication, and teamwork. Furthermore, to connect, implement and work with what I have learned previously, putting into practice what I have studied and acquiring a more complete learning. Also, this would be a great chance to expand my curiosity and investigate NASA’s career opportunities for my future as a professional.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? Persistent, Hard-Working, and Empathic.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire Marcos Gabriel Berríos, a 37-year-old Puerto Rican chosen as one of ten astronaut candidates to work on future missions in space. It is an honor to have a Puerto Rican representing the Latinos and demonstrating that persistence and hard work is capable of fulfilling every dream. Gabriel is a mentor and role model for anyone who has dreamed of making it to NASA, as I do. He demonstrates that persistence is the key to success.
What is your current major and university? I am currently a Biology major at Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? The wonderful Science Educational Enhancement Services at Cal Poly Pomona informed me of the SaSa program. After learning more about it, I knew a program like this that focused on young scientists from minority communities was perfect for me and I could not let the opportunity pass me by. The idea of spending the summer developing myself as a researcher beside students like myself and professionals that I aspire to be like intrigued me. Immersing myself in a hands-on research experience is exactly what I need after my first year of college.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer I hope to learn more about myself and my abilities, develop long-lasting connections with those I meet through this program, and become a more confident scientist. I believe through the experience that this program will give me I will learn more about what I want to dedicate my career to and how to pursue it confidently.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are my willingness to consider new ideas, my enthusiasm towards learning since I was young, and my creativity that I always try to find a way to convey.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire both of my parents immensely. They are hard workers that have faced and overcome all of the obstacles that life has put in their way. Establishing a life in a foreign country at a young age is extremely difficult but they were able to do so successfully and provide me with a comfortable and loving life. They teach me to seek out opportunities and to not let any setbacks be the end of my story. My parents inspire me to dream and to work to make those dreams come true.
Stephanie Marie Ortiz Rosario
What is your current major and university? I am a second-year Theoretical Physics major from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? What first caught my attention to apply to SaSa was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly onboard of a NASA aircraft to collect atmospheric measurements. Aviation interests me as well, and the ability to combine it with Meteorology is not an opportunity that is tended to be offered, especially to undergraduates. My decision was reaffirmed when I learned that I would receive lectures on topics such as data analysis, atmospheric dynamics, and scientific communication. Those are topics that during the first two years of college are not emphasized in depth yet, but I am eager to learn as early as I can in my professional career, as it will give me the confidence to succeed in the program. Finally, my decision persisted knowing about the commitment of SaSa to support and mentor students while embracing diversity, which is very important to me as a Latina.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? This summer is all about stepping out of my comfort zone. I would like to apply all that I have learned during the lectures into a project that I can be proud of, create meaningful connections with my mentors and peers, and communicate the science I have learned to my community. I know that all the experiences that I will gain during SaSa will further contribute to my interest and motivation to continue seeking opportunities in the research field, and, eventually, to apply to graduate school.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? Some of my favorite things about myself are that I live independently, and enjoy my own company; that I strive to grow everyday as a person and student, despite all the mental challenges I may encounter; and, that I am determined to continue working towards my aspirations and dreams, one of them being to become an Atmospheric Scientist.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone who I admire is Ada Monzón. Her commitment as a meteorologist is not limited to her on-air forecasts; she elevates her commitment to contribute to the future of Puerto Rico, advocating for the importance of the education on the Island and its students. For instance, she leads the “EcoExploratorio, Museum of Puerto Rico”, as its founder, and continuously supports Puerto Rican meteorology students in the AMS Local Student Chapter as a mentor. Her definition of safeguarding lives is beyond admirable.
What is your current major and university? I attend Howard University, my current major is Computer Science.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? Growing up, I have always looked towards the Earth’s resources to enhance the life I live. The first reason I applied to SaSa is because I believe that SaSa will provide me the opportunity to feed my desire and curiosity of utilizing the Earth’s resources for scientific advancement. The Earth’s resources are all we have and understanding the composition on a molecular level can further advance scientific insights to help the proliferation of the tech world. Second, the program is an opportunity to grow in a practical research environment. The SaSa program will provide practical experience to be prepared for PhD programs. And lastly, SaSa will provide the opportunity to bring what I have to the table. With my ongoing passion for research and innovation and using the Earth’s resources, I wanted to be a part of an environment where I can contribute to a cause greater than myself.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer, I am looking forward to gaining hands-on research experience, learning more about geoscience and connecting the subject to computer science.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself is that I am creative, committed, and well-balanced. As a Computer Science major, I am often thought of as more logical. But behind that rationale, there is a foundational creativity that vitalizes my pursuits. “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough” is a quote by Og Mandino that I live by. I have an pragmatic commitment making a positive impact on society. My favorite thing about myself is that I am well-balanced. With all my endeavors, I find that I am rarely drained because there is equal passion and energy with all my pursuits.
Who is someone you admire and why? Someone I admire is Dr. Jamila Cocchiola, my high school Computer Science teacher. Dr. Cocchiola has accomplished so much in her life, especially in the STEM field. She is very passionate about what she does in Computer Science and is a very prodigious person overall. Her work ethic continues to invigorate me, even when I am away at college.
What is your current major and university? I am currently majoring in Biology on the cellular/molecular track at Hampton University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I applied to SaSa because I heard about the hands-on activities and immersion around NASA professionals that could provide a well rounded experience where I could learn what it is like to work at NASA. Beforehand, I did internships that were completely virtual where I only worked on coding skills. I also applied because I wanted to branch out and do research in a different field outside of Biology, which could help me learn more about what I am interested in.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? By the end of the summer I want to improve my programming skills in R and learn new hands-on skills using remote sensing and other atmosphere data recording instruments. I also want to build relationships with members of the SaSa staff, including my mentor, so that we can possibly reconnect in the future. Lastly, I want to complete a research paper or poster that I will present at a symposium.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? The three qualities I like the most about myself are my creativity, curiosity, and attention to detail.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire Paul Stamets. I have respect for the high level of curiosity he has for his research in fungi. Even after years of research and accomplishments he continues to think about the possibilities there are with using fungi to treat diseases and heal our ecosystems. I also admire his commitment to finding ways of keeping natural ecosystems healthy.
Romina Cano Velasquez
What is your current major and university? I am pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering at the Honors College at Miami Dade College.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I am interested in the aerospace industry field and I hope to become part of the engineering team working at NASA. The SaSa program seemed to be an ideal opportunity to grant me first access to hands-on experiences, NASA procedures, and specialists in scientific research. Furthermore, as part of an underrepresented community, I was delighted to know about a program that would bring me closer to my goals.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? This summer, I would like to acquire fundamental knowledge for my professional growth as a researcher and engineer. I am also looking forward to establishing new connections with my peers and mentors and getting the most out of this unique experience.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are my curiosity for learning new things, my willingness to constantly help others, and my decisiveness to focus on solutions to a problem.
Who is someone you admire and why? I deeply admire my mom. After suffering an accident in her twenties, she struggled and overcame it to become a professional and build a family. I have always said that my mom’s resilience and courage made her succeed, and her fearlessness and determination made her live. She is my principal role model, and she has inspired me to become who I am now.
What is your current major and university? I currently attend Howard University where I am a Mechanical Engineering major and Physics, Math, and English triple minor.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I’ve always been infatuated working with NASA and being a part of the driving force behind space, Earth, and atmospheric exploration. Coupling this with my childhood history and interest in marine science, marine exploration and the relationship it has with engineering, applying to SaSa became the culmination of all of my past and present interests. When I read up on it my interest in the program progressed. Applying to the program was a necessity!
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer I would like to build a better understanding of carrying out scientific research along with learning how to collect data and interpret it to make concrete conclusions on how the Earth is doing.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? My three favorite things about myself are my curiosity, tenacity, and humor.
Who is someone you admire and why? I admire Dr. Modibo Kadalie because Dr. Kadalie has been a powerful force that helped shape my view on the world and how African Americans, specifically, fit in it. The most notable contribution Dr. Kadalie has had in my life was this lesson: respect from anyone, regardless of age, is earned not given. Dr. Kadalie drove this lesson home by not requiring me to refer to him using honorifics; in most settings I referred to Dr. Kadalie as ‘Modibo’. Dr. Kadalie has consistently listened to what I had to say, not to respond, but for understanding and comprehension. He has shown me that influencing the younger generation doesn’t have to come at the expense of the knowledge from past generations and for that I’ll forever be grateful.
What is your current major and university? My name is Kiara Wilson and I’m a Computer Science & Mathematics major with a minor in Biology attending Virginia State University.
What made you decide to apply to SaSa? I decided to apply to the SaSa program for the experience and expansion on scientific knowledge. As a computer science major, my classes center around programming — lacking other sciences, especially Earth-related. I knew this would be a great opportunity to enjoy an experience in a relatively unfamiliar field.
What would you like to accomplish over the summer? Over the summer I’d like to grow socially (I’m an introvert), and I would love to find some new interests as well. I believe this opportunity will improve my academic and professional engagement skills as well.
What are your three favorite things about yourself? I like that I’m hardworking and I’m always willing to take on a challenge. I also enjoy the arts. I played two instruments throughout high school, and I participated in theater arts as well. I also am a loc enthusiast and am in love with locs overall. (I’ve had mine since my sophomore year of high school.)
Who is someone you admire and why? While I admire many people, I look up to my father the most. He’s very hard-working and he manages to spend time with myself and all of my siblings. He’s also extremely kind-hearted and one of the most gentle people in my life.
Last Updated Nov 17, 2023 Related Terms
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5 min read
Indigenous Student Brings Skills, Perspective to NASA Internship
Alyssa Warrior, who is Onödowá’ga’(Seneca) and belongs to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, was an intern at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in summer 2023.Credit: NASA/Ellen Bausback On hot, summer days when Alyssa Warrior was growing up, she spent her time outside by her home on the Seneca Nation Cattaraugus Reservation near Buffalo, New York. She lay in the creek to escape the boiling sun, ran through the woods with her sister and five brothers, picked raspberries and wild onions, and lounged in a hammock.
When night came, her father started a fire and told scary stories while hot dogs and s’mores sizzled. Her family sunk down in lawn chairs after the fire turned to ash and gazed up, searching for lights in the sky.
“Looking at stars was always my favorite thing,” Warrior said. “I think I’ve always been interested in the natural world.”
With a blanket wrapped around her, Warrior walked barefoot in the dewy grass, staying out long after her family retreated inside. Other nights, she lay with her face pressed against the sliding glass door in her living room, hoping to catch just one more glimpse of the sky.
“I was always like, ‘One more, just one more shooting star,’’ Warrior said. “I just couldn’t stop. I loved to see them.”
In summer 2023, Warrior – now a physics senior at the University at Buffalo – interned at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where she used software to validate and verify a model of a control system that could be used in future hybrid-electric aircraft. Adjusting the model and combing over code for hours to make improvements reminded Warrior of her skywatching memories.
“At one point, I needed to stop,” Warrior said. “But I’d be thinking, well, maybe I’ll just make one more adjustment and that’ll help.”
Warrior, who is Onödowá’ga’(Seneca) and belongs to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, never expected to come to NASA. But after attending an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) conference and meeting Glenn engineer Joseph Connolly, she was recruited as an intern.
Outreach is integral to bringing more Indigenous people to NASA, says Connolly, who shares Warrior’s Haudenosaunee background and has mentored a handful of other Indigenous interns during his 19 years at Glenn.
“I think one of the reasons that it’s really important to get more Indigenous people at NASA, and just people with different perspectives, is because the problems that we work on are ridiculously hard,” Connolly said. “If we have all of the smartest people, but they get trained the exact same way, sometimes you just don’t have the insights that can give you the ability to look at problems in a new way.”
Building connections with fellow Indigenous employees is another way to help inspire the next generation, Connolly says, and Warrior connected with many through an online Natives at NASA group.
“It’s been really great to see other Native people working here at NASA – people that looks like me or look like my family – because it’s not something I see or that I’m used to,” Warrior said. “Everyone I’ve met has held some sort of information or knowledge that has improved my time here and will improve my future.”
Alyssa Warrior (far right) poses with other summer 2023 interns outside a small-scale electrical lab at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.Credit: Joe Connolly Warrior sees a clear connection between Indigenous people and the STEM fields.
“I think a lot of Native people specifically are connected with nature and have an interest in learning from it,” she said. “I think that’s its own science.”
In addition, working on hybrid-electric aircraft and sustainability aligned with Warrior’s cultural values, she said.
“Within Native communities, that is very important,” Warrior said. “It’s not always just trying to go to space, it’s also just trying to improve the planet that we’re on now. “
Besides recruiting and speaking at conferences, NASA Glenn works with Cleveland organizations, like the Lake Erie Native American Council and the Cleveland Metroparks, to support Indigenous Peoples Day events and other gatherings. NASA also supports a high-powered rocket competition for Indigenous students called First Nations Launch. Within the agency, the Science Mission Directorate hosts monthly conversations with Indigenous scholars.
“It’s incredibly important to make sure that Alyssa and some of the other students see that these communities exist, because when I was getting started [in STEM], I had no idea they did,” Connolly said.
Along with continuing outreach, Warrior suggests that those at NASA and others seeking to connect with Indigenous people learn about Indigenous heritage and history.
“Those are all really important things to know before even trying to open your arms up to Native people because then you‘re aware of where they’re coming from and certain struggles that they face,” Warrior said. “That makes it easier to reach out.”
Warrior says she is proud to have been an intern at NASA and hopes she’ll inspire younger Indigenous people, like her nieces and nephews, to reach for the stars. She knows she’ll continue to draw on the lessons of the natural world as she pursues a future STEM career.
“It’s always with me, this mindset and maybe looking at things a little differently. I feel more comfortable outside, seeing green,” Warrior said. “I think it’s definitely affected who I am today. I’ve got to put my feet in the grass sometimes.”
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Six Growing Beyond Earth Student Teams to Present at the 2023 American Association for Gravitational and Space Research ConferenceBy NASA
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Six Growing Beyond Earth Student Teams to Present at the 2023 American Association for Gravitational and Space Research Conference
To join Growing Beyond Earth, visit us www.fairchildgarden.org/gbe. Credit: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Congratulations to the six Growing Beyond Earth high school teams who will present their original research at this year’s American Association for Gravitational and Space Research Conference in Washington D.C.! The teams represent Biotech@Richmond Heights (Miami FL), Herbert Henry Dow High School (Midland, MI), iMater Preparatory Academy High School (Hialeah, FL), and Institute for Collaborative Education (New York, NY). The student projects include:
Exploring Autonomous Sensing and Watering Systems, Plant Growth and Gene Expression in Simulating Microgravity, 3D Printed Materials Property Impact on Plant Growth, and Optimizing Light to Maximum Anthocyanin Content in Plants. Growing Beyond Earth is a classroom-based citizen science project designed to advance NASA research on growing plants in space. For more information or to get involved, please visit: www.fairchildgarden.org/gbe.
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Last Updated Nov 08, 2023 Related Terms
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