ISS National Laboratory selects three outstanding students for the James Abrahamson Fellowship
A graduate researcher working on her PhD in aerospace engineering, a medical student who founded a company focused on commercializing low Earth orbit (LEO) and an undergraduate student in the field of cosmology will be the first three students to work closely with mentors from the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory as James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellows. The fellowship is a 12-month advanced learning experience sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory through the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS).
Fellows will have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in future space-related careers. Throughout the program, fellows will work with both an ISS National Laboratory mentor and a subject matter expert in a field relevant to their primary field of study and aerospace career interest. Students will also have the opportunity to network with ISS National Laboratory stakeholders to advance the mission of the ISS National Laboratory and our nation’s goal of commercializing LEO.
“Congratulations to the very first recipients of the James A. Abrahamson Space Fellowship,” said Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson (USAF Retired), former Chairman of the Board of Directors and former Acting Executive Director of CASIS, Director of the ISS National Laboratory.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for these three students to work with space industry experts and learn more about this growing community,” he said. “I hope that during this year of learning, each of these students will be able to acquire knowledge and lasting relationships that will accompany them throughout their professional careers.”
The three students who have been awarded scholarships based on their academic and extracurricular resumes are:
Taylor Peterson is a graduate researcher at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in her second year of a PhD in aerospace engineering. She is also a flight coach with the Zero-Gravity Corporation and has been flying with them as a researcher since 2018. Peterson’s undergraduate background consists of a bachelor’s degree in physics with extensive experience conducting research experiments related to fluids, including several microgravity payloads that have flown on parabolic and suborbital flights. While at UCF, Peterson worked on research involving microfluidic flows in microgravity in relation to osteoporosis in astronauts.
Harsimran “Hari” Kalsi is a medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin and co-founder and CEO of a National Science Foundation-backed deep tech startup I-Corps called Otto Sciences. At Otto, Kalsi spearheads several space commercialization/LEO initiatives. Kalsi is passionate about bringing together the private sector, academia and government to develop solutions to some of the biggest problems facing humanity today, with a particular interest in longevity, neuroprotection and biostasis.
Caitlin O’Brien is an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, majoring in astrophysics and astronomy as well as physics. She is an active student researcher in the field of cosmology and is a young professional science educator working in a non-profit organization that improves accessibility to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Additionally, O’Brien co-founded a mentorship program to benefit blind and visually impaired high school students. She is also president of her university’s astronomy society and presents a planetarium.
The scholarship was specifically looking for U.S. citizens or permanent residents from underrepresented communities, with the goal of ensuring that opportunities within the space industry are accessible to everyone. Each scholarship recipient will receive a one-time award of $5,000 plus reimbursement of authorized sponsored travel expenses.
The scholarship is named after Lieutenant General James A. Abrahamson (retired USAF), who is widely considered one of the most distinguished and decorated military program leaders of the 20th century. Lt. Gen. Abrahamson began his military career as a fighter pilot in Vietnam and was eventually selected for the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program, which was later canceled. After serving as a pilot and astronaut candidate, Lt. Gen. Abrahamson rose through the Air Force and NASA ranks, including his assignment as NASA Associate Administrator for Spaceflight.
Additionally, in 1984, President Reagan appointed Lieutenant General Abrahamson as the first Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, known as the “Star Wars Program”, until his retirement. in 1989. Despite his official retirement, Lt. Gen. Abrahamson has remained active, maintaining leadership positions with various companies in the aviation industry and CASIS. For his efforts in furthering NASA’s goal of commercializing space, Lt. Gen. Abrahamson was awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal.
Congratulations to all James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellows. At the ISS National Laboratory, we look forward to our year of working with you.
About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service company, the ISS National Laboratory enables researchers to leverage this multi-user facility to improve life on Earth, evolve space business models, advance the science culture of the future workforce and develop a sustainable and scalable market in low earth orbit. Through this in-orbit National Laboratory, ISS research resources are available to support non-NASA science, technology, and educational initiatives of U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) operates the ISS National Laboratory, under a cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit and the extreme and varied conditions of space. . To learn more about the ISS National Laboratory, visit our website.