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List of Mentors Seeking Fellows or Trainees

Important Links

bullet marker Undergraduate Fellowship Information & Application (pdf file)
bullet marker Undergraduate Traineeships at Manoa & Hilo (pdf file)
bullet marker Undergraduate Traineeships at Community Colleges (pdf file)
bullet marker Previous Fellows and Trainees
bullet marker Guidelines for Mentors
bullet marker Other Research Opportunities for Undergraduates


bullet marker Current NASA Strategic Plan (44-page .pdf document)
bullet marker Current NASA Goals and Objectives from the current NASA Strategic Plan, Appendix
bullet marker Looking for a specific topic? See this alphabetical listing of research topics of UH mentors seeking students.

MENTORS (listed alphabetically)


Dr. Brian Bingham
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Holmes Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-7597
email: bsb@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Autonomous robotics
My interest is in robotic exploration of extreme environments. Using autonomous systems to explore space will require them to be substantially more capable than today's platforms. In particular, I am interested in how robots (platforms+sensors+algorithms) can be designed for mobile manipulation. This research is directly related to NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets program. The methods developed here will be used to explore deep, ice-covered oceans on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's moon Europa. Qualified students should have a major in an applicable field of science or engineering.


Dr. Dulal Borthakur
Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE), Ag. Science Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-6600
email: dulal@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Biotechnology
We propose to develop bacterial capsules for space transportation. Keeping bacteria alive during long space travel may be challenging. The student will be involved in our research to develop bacterial capsules suitable for space transportation and other commercial use. The outer coat of the bacterial capsule will be produced using exopolysaccharides from genetically engineered bacteria. Qualified students should have background in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology.


Dr. Qi Chen
Department of Geography, Saunders Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-3524
email: qichen@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Projects: Remote Sensing
I have two projects using ground-based LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system to quantify vegetation structure for environmental studies, which support NASA's interest in exploring Earth's biomass and biodiversity. One project is to map canopy structure features on the western and northern slopes of Mauna Kea where there is distinct abundance of palila (Loxioides bailleui), an endangered bird species in Hawai‘i. The other project is to improve water source assessment in Hawai‘i by using LiDAR measurements of canopy structure to estimate rainfall interception. Qualified students should have taken Geography 470: Remote Sensing or have equivalent experience.


Dr. Monique Chyba
Department of Mathematics, Physical Science Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-8464
email: mchyba@math.hawaii.edu

Brief Description of Project: Applied Math / Control Theory
Rocket flights in an inverse square law field have been studied extensively in the literature; however, orbit transfer (for instance Earth-Mars) with minimal time is still an open problem. This project concerns the application of geometric optimal control theory to the analysis of planar orbit transfer with minimal flight time. Our analysis of optimal trajectories is based on the maximum principle, the main tool of optimal control theory. The student will be involved in numerical and theoretical investigations to determine or not the existence of conjugate points along extremals (crucial in any optimal control problem). This is an opportunity for the student to apply the theory seen in classroom to a concrete problem and to get a research experience in applied mathematics. Qualified students should have a strong mathematics background. Knowledge of ordinary differential equations and numerical analysis is desirable.


Dr. Sarah Fagents
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-3163
email: fagents@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Geology / Volcanology
Origins of Volcanic Cones on Mars. Objective: To understand the eruption mechanisms responsible for forming Martian cone fields, and the implications for interaction of lava with regolith ice. Student's main contribution will be searching Mars image datasets for cones, mapping cone fields, measuring and plotting cone sizes, and comparing with similar features on Earth. Some computer modeling is possible.


Dr. Ali Fares
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resoaurces (CTAHR), Sherman Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: 956-6361
email: afares@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Watershed Hydrology
I have two possible projects that satisfy NASA's goals of understanding Earth systems and applying Earth-system science to improve the prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards. (1) The main goal of the first project is to evaluate the performance of flood prediction model(s) for operational flood forecasting. Students will be involved in collecting spatially distributed field data (e.g., rainfall, soil moisture, temperature, net radiation and other weather parameters) suitable for input into flood prediction models for Hawaiian small, steep tropical watersheds with extreme rainfalls, e.g. Hanalei, Kauai and Manoa, Oahu. (2) The main goal of the second project is to help evaluate causes of sedimentation of Hawaii coastal coral reefs. Students will be working to identify ways to predict the occurrences of landslides and feral pig damage to Hawaiian watersheds that lead to sedimentation problems on the reefs. This work will have an integrated approach that involves extensive literature review, field data collection, and watershed modeling. Students will be involved in one or more of these approaches based on their interests. Qualified students should have interests in natural resources and environmental management and knowledge of basic science.


Dr. Jeffrey Gillis-Davis
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: 956-5738
email: gillis@higp.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Geology / Remote Sensing
The project I have available involves geologic mapping of the Moon using multiple remotely sensed data sets and data from the Apollo sample collection. Objective: to investigate correlations between sample chemistry and mineralogy with spectral and elemental data acquired from remote sensing missions (e.g., Clementine, Lunar Prospector, Lunar Orbiter). Correlations revealed in this study will serve as a basis for algorithms to map lunar surface compositions and mineralogy away from the sampling locations. The chemical and mineralogical distribution maps created in this study will provide critical information on the bulk chemistry of the Moon. Knowledge of and aptitude for computers, math, and geology is important.


Dr. Tung Hoang
Department of Microbiology, Snyder Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: 956-8038
email: tongh@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Molecular Biology
The study of simple life forms, bacteria, and how they evolve is essential for understanding early life on our planet and perhaps some day on other planets. We are studying the possibility that bacteria can evolve metabolic pathways capable of degrading a xenobiotic compound, pentachlorophenol (PCP), by increasing the rates of evolution in the laboratory. PCP is foreign to life and is an extremely toxic man-made pollutant. By showing that evolution increases efficiency of PCP degradation at high concentrations in the laboratory, we would have demonstrated that life, at least on Earth, has resilient mechanisms to evolve and deal with foreign substances. The student will be involved in our laboratory research utilizing multiple genes in a metabolic pathway to show life can evolve and handle xenobiotic compounds that are new to the native environment. Qualified students should have taken Microbiology 351 or have equivalent experience.


Dr. Terry Hunt
Department of Anthropology, Saunders Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: 956-7310
email: thunt@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Archaeology / Anthropology
I am working on a project using recent satellite images of Rapa Nui to identify the remains of the extensive ancient road system. The project is called "The Ancient Moai (Statue) Roads of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The roads and many other classes of archaeological sites are clearly visible from space. These roads were used to transport more than 300 multi-ton statues to every corner of the island. The roads have never been systematically identified or documented in any detail. The student would be involved in comparing satellite image road "signatures" with field data collected in the summer. Our goal is to distinguish ancient, historic (sheep ranching), and modern roads. Documentation of the ancient road system and the associated archaeological and landscape features will provide a critical picture to understanding the prehistoric social and economic investment in making and moving the massive statues of Rapa Nui. Qualified students should have some familiarity with remote sensing software to analyze spatial data (e.g. ERDAS) and Geographic Information Systems.


Dr. Craig Jensen
Department of Chemistry, Bilger Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-2769
email: jensen@gold.chem.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Chemistry
Metal hydrides have a long, if not entirely, successful history in energy storage and conversion in spacecraft. Metal hydride based devices such as the BETSCE hydrogen-sorption cryocooler have successfully deployed on the space shuttle and satellites. However, the "holy grail" hydride with respect to cost and performance criteria has yet to be developed. Complex hydrides are one of the most promising hydrogen storage materials to have emerged in recent years. We have found that doping NaAlH4 through our patented mechanical milling process improves the hydrogen cycling kinetics and capacity of the material. Subsequent efforts at UH and elsewhere on the development of Ti doped NaAlH4 have given rise to hydrogen storage materials that stand as the current state-of-the-art. This project will entail the synthesis of advanced hydrogen storage materials with higher hydrogen cycling performance and reversible storage capacities. We will also determine the dehydriding/re-hydriding kinetics and thermodynamics of these materials in order to gauge the improvement that has been achieved in these key practical parameters. Qualified students should have taken Chem 422 and Chem 423. Students must have experience in the synthesis of air- and moisture-sensitive materials.


Dr. Kent Kobayashi
Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, St. John Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-7876
email: kentko@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Horticulture
NASA is keenly interested in and has been conducting research on growing crops in space as a source of food for astronauts. This proposed project involves growing plants under supplemental lighting. It offers a choice of working in several research areas: 1) comparing the effectiveness of different fluorescent light sources; 2) experimenting with crops that could alternatively be grown instead of more conventional salad crops (lettuce, radish) and dwarf wheat; or 3) using photoselective plastic film to alter light quality to control the height of crops or enhance their growth. The aim of the project is to provide the student with research and learning opportunities related to space biology, plant physiology, and horticulture. It is anticipated that results from this project would provide information on the effects of light quality on crop growth and the use of alternative crops in space. Qualified students should have taken a general botany or horticulture course with a laboratory and be familiar with laboratory techniques. Knowledge of plant physiology is desirable.


Dr. Weilin Qu
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Holmes Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-9650
email: qu@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Engineering
The increasing power requirements of new space technologies and missions lead to ever-increasing heat generation at the component, module, and system levels. The waste heat has to be effectively removed, as the reliability and life span of many devices/systems used in a microgravity environment are both strongly affected by temperature. Development of novel thermal management subsystems with significantly improved capacity and efficiency are therefore of critical importance for space exploration needs. The project will address this need through the design of a compact refrigeration subsystem that is capable of dissipating high-heat-flux from electronic/mechanical devices in microgravity applications. The subsystem will incorporate small size compressor, condenser, and micro evaporators, and will be able to operate in microgravity environments. Qualified students should have taken ME 311 (Thermodynamics), ME 312 (Applied Thermodynamics), and ME 322 (Mechanics of Fluids).


Dr. Tom Ramsey
Department of Mathematics, Physical Science Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-4666
email: ramsey@math.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Mathematics
Student will be involved in a project exploring and programming some new ideas in exact confidence intervals for binomial and Poisson random variables. This has applications to estimating probabilities when data sets are small. Qualified students should have experience in programming with mathematical software such as Matlab, Mathematica, Maple, etc.


Dr. Ron Riggs
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Holmes Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-6566
email: riggs@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Civil / Structural Engineering
Structural health monitoring of space materials and vehicles is of interest to NASA, especially after the recent shuttle disaster. Dr. Alexander Tessler at NASA Langley Research Center has developed a new procedure for monitoring. This project would be to test his procedure on different structural components using the commercial structural analysis software ABAQUS. Dr. Tessler is willing to provide his code and relevant problems involving structural systems of interest to NASA. The student will use ABAQUS to model the structures and evaluate the effectiveness of the monitoring strategy. Results from ABAQUS will be used as input to the health monitoring algorithm. Output from the health monitoring algorithm will be compared with the benchmark results from ABAQUS. Of primary interest are the stresses in the structural system. Results will be documented in a report, which will be provided to Dr. Tessler. Qualified students should have taken CEE 381-- Structural Analysis or have similar experience.


Dr. Norbert Schorghofer
Institute for Astronomy & Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, Physical Science Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-9086
email: norbert@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Planetary Science: Mars Image Analysis
The student will learn how to analyze images from spacecraft currently orbiting Mars. He or she will discover and document surface changes to understand frost and dust on the planet. There are no specific course prerequisites. Interested students should send me an email with their resume, including GPA, major (if declared), expected graduation date, prior research experience (if any), and career goals. Many of my students have become co-authors on scientific publications.


Dr. Yuling Yan
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Holmes Hall
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-4435
email: yyan@eng.hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Dynamics systems / Biomedical engineering
Research opportunities exist for one to two students in dynamic and vibration analyses of tethered satellite systems or in the field of space robot vision research. Kinematically redundant robot arms have potential applications in hazardous/remote environments such as space servicing. Such robot arms are capable of dexterous manipulation. The extra D.O.F of the system may be profitably used to avoid mechanism singularity and obstacles and to increase the system reliability against partial faults. On the other hand, the control of such robot arms is more complicated than conventional arms. We address key issues on inverse kinematics problem and develop new control schemes. We incorporate vision in the robot that serves as a robotic sensor, mimics the human sense of vision and allows for non-contact measurement of the environment. The visual control of robot arms is the fusion of multidisciplinary areas including image processing, kinematics, dynamics, control and real-time computing. Qualified students should have experience in dynamics, modeling and analysis of dynamics systems or vibration.


Dr. Jian Yu
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), POST Building
UH Manoa
Contact information:
Phone: (808) 956-5873
email:
jianyu@hawaii.edu
webpage (opens in a new window)

Brief Description of Project: Biochemical Engineering
This project is focused on understanding how prokaryotic life responses to environmental change in controlled conditions. It helps us understand how they respond to the space environment. Prokaryotes played a crucial role in life evolution by adapting to their unique environments (e.g. absence and presence of oxygen). They respond to environmental change physically, chemically, and biologically. The project will investigate the responses and interactions between two types of prokaryotes, obligate aerobes versus anaerobes. The research will use a novel bioreactor with a membrane to provide different environments for aerobes and anaerobes in the same bioreactor. By controlling the properties of the membrane such as molecular diffusion, we will investigate the chemical communications and responses of two different microbial populations. The student will be involved in the work to investigate carbon flow by monitoring its migration from one population to another. In an anaerobic environment, the carbon may provide energy and act as an electron carrier while the electron-carrying metabolites are further utilized by aerobes. This will raise many interesting questions and lead to interesting observations. In addition to the novel bioreactor, the research will also use advanced instruments such as the phase-contrast microscope, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Qualified students should have an interest and some background knowledge in microbiology and biochemistry.


Eligibility
Full-time undergraduate students at the University of Hawai`i Manoa and Hilo campuses are eligible to apply for a Space Grant Undergraduate Fellowship. Undergraduate Traineeships are available to U.H. Manoa, Hilo, and Community College students, as well as students at the University of Guam. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must be sponsored by a faculty member willing to act as the student's mentor during the award period.


Application
Download an application now. These are .pdf documents with fillable forms. [Install Acrobat Reader]

Application deadlines are: December 1 for spring semester and June 15 for fall semester.

NOTE: These are four page documents. We've made the form fillable on your computer. You may type your information onto the Application Cover Page using Acrobat Reader then print. Be sure to obtain all required signatures before you submit your papers to the Space Grant office.

INFORMATION and APPLICATION for Undergraduate Fellowship

INFORMATION and APPLICATION for Undergraduate Traineeship at Manoa & Hilo

INFORMATION and APPLICATION for Undergraduate Traineeship at a Community College

For additional information about Hawaii Space Grant Fellowships or Traineeships please call the Manoa office for more information at (808) 956-3138 or contact Dr. Ed Scott at escott@higp.hawaii.edu.

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Hawaii Space Grant

http://www.spacegrant.hawaii.edu/
Communications: Linda Martel
Updated January 27, 2014.