Two TTU doctoral students receive NASA fellowships

Posted by Lori Shull - Monday, September 17 2012
lshull@tntech.edu

Officials at NASA have decided that two research projects at Tennessee Tech University could help further the administration's scientific objectives.

Two graduate students working with Faisal Hossain, professor of civil and environmental engineering at TTU, will receive training grants to fund their doctoral research for at least the next year through the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship program.

“These fellowships are evidence of the quality of Dr. Faisal Hossain’s research, which was instrumental in helping secure these funds for our students,” said Francis Otuonye, TTU’s associate vice president for research and graduate studies. “These fellowships ensure that TTU continues to train highly qualified students in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s scientific goals.”

The program aims to ensure that NASA will continue to have highly skilled researchers and employees to meet NASA's goals.

The annual fellowship program received nearly 500 research proposals across its four divisions in 2012. Both TTU students' submissions were in the earth sciences category, which received nearly 300 proposals. Approximately 50 were funded from the entire pool.

Abel Woldemichael, a doctoral student from Ethiopia, will study the effect of large dams on storms that ravage the West Coast during the winter months. He will use satellite data, cloud tracking and numerical modeling to understand better how humans are modifying extreme weather patterns through infrastructure development.

Abebe Gebregiorgis, a doctoral student also from Ethiopia, will work on a project that aims to estimate the quality of satellite rainfall estimates around the world.

TTU is one of 35 institutions to receive funding in the earth sciences division this year. Others are the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Texas A&M, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland.

The fellowship program selected the winning proposals based on academic excellence of the students applying, scientific merit of the project and the relevance of the proposals to NASA's objectives in earth and space science.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the third NESSF award in the state of Tennessee since the program started in the 1990s, with all three of them going to TTU graduate students,” Hossain said. “Such awards are a recognition of the long-term plan to build a nationally visible graduate program in civil engineering.”