Maine Space Grant Consortium scholarships support students’ research

Saint Joseph’s students Terence Cullen ’14 and Robert Michaud Jr. ’14 have each been awarded a $3,000 scholarship through the Maine Space Grant Consortium to pursue research of interest to NASA.

Submitted to a panel of Saint Joseph’s professors – Dr. Elizabeth Auger, Dr. Nicholas Benfaremo, Dr. Johan Erikson and Camilla Fecteau – the students’ research proposals look at topics that, after successful execution in the laboratory, can be applied in different settings of space exploration.

Cullen’s project goal is to find the least expensive manner to obtain a silole – a silicon-containing polymer that has “a pure blue fluorescence, has thermal stability and demonstrates good electron transport properties,” Cullen’s proposal states. Simply acquiring a properly performing silole is of great significance. High-functioning siloles are beneficial to NASA because they can “be used to improve solar cell efficiencies,” Cullen says. “NASA could generate power by using organic molecules instead of using the depleting supply of oil and gas. An example of this application would be spacecraft running off solar power.”

Michaud’s research seeks to find connections between bacteria found on participants’ hands, their demographic profiles and their contact with any particular animals. The goal is to find how humans and animals have complementary or negative bacterial relationships, and exactly what bacteria transfer or do not transfer from human to animals and vice versa.

“This will be useful for NASA,” Michaud says, “if they intend on having any prolonged exposure to animals during future space expeditions. This research may also be used for any development of biodomes. Humans and animals would be even closer in proximity in these closed systems than they are now, and this research could lend to understanding how this may affect human life.”

The scholarships support Cullen and Michaud in their research costs; allow them to travel to related conferences to present their findings; and help bring the relevant technology to the College and the state.

The Maine Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) is a nonprofit corporation and a member of the national network of consortia in all 50 states including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The network is funded by NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (also known as Space Grant). Congress established Space Grant in 1988 to contribute to the nation’s science and engineering enterprise. MSGC’s affiliates are undergraduate and graduate institutions, nonprofit research laboratories, state agencies, technology-based businesses, and science and education organizations.

MSGC’s mission is to improve their affiliates’ research infrastructure in areas of mutual interest to NASA and the state of Maine; encourage more students to consider careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); and enhance NASA’s presence throughout Maine.

April 24, 2013
Contact: David Svenson at 207-893-7723 ·