Universities Space Research Association Announces the 2022 Distinguished Undergraduate Award Winners

Universities Space Research Association (USRA) proudly announced the winners of the prestigious 2022 USRA Distinguished Undergraduate Awards on December 8.

USRA bestows these awards to honor outstanding undergraduate students in various majors through a competitive process. These awards are granted to students who tackle challenging problems in aerospace engineering, space science research and exploration, demonstrate leadership, promote diversity in science and engineering, and are poised to make significant contributions to their fields.

The following students are the winners of the USRA 2022 Distinguished Undergraduate Awards:

Claire Blaske, Astrophysics, Astrophysics, Arizona State University
Thomas R. McGetchin Memorial Scholarship

Brooke Carruthers, Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona
—James B. Willett Education Memorial Scholarship

Jennifer Berry, Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury
 —Frederick A. Tarantino Memorial Scholarship

Theo O’Neill, Astronomy-Physics and Applied Statistics, University of Virginia
Judith L. Pipher Memorial Scholarship

Sabrina NoorAhmad-Yarzada, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, Davis
—John. R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship

“We are proud to honor these 2022 Distinguished Undergraduate Award winners,” said Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson, USRA President and CEO, “and we are especially pleased to award our inaugural Judith L. Pipher Memorial Scholarship. All of these students set themselves apart with their scholastic achievements, leadership potential, and passion for excellence. We wish them continued success in their promising careers.”

Five other students received an Honorable Mention:

  • Kevin Boes, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University
  • Amelia Korveziroska, Physics Engineering, Illinois State University
  • Isabella Macias, Astrophysics, University of Florida
  • Shane Riley, Mechanical Engineering & Computer Science, University of Pittsburgh
  • Madison VanWyngarden, Astronomy & Physics, Boston University

Established to honor the service and memory of individuals who made significant contributions to their fields and to USRA, these awards are made possible by financial contributions, including those made by USRA employees. This year, USRA added the Judith L. Pipher Memorial Award in memory of a former member of the USRA Board of Trustees who made seminal contributions to the field of infrared astronomy.

Faculty from USRA Member Universities review the applications for the awards. Through a rigorous process, they evaluate the students based on stated career goals and accomplishments, leadership qualities, outreach to their communities, and strengths such as initiative, creativity and perseverance. Recommendation letters from their professors and intern advisors also play an important role in the review.

In 2022, USRA received 85 eligible applications from 57 different universities (including member universities from New Zealand and Israel). From this pool of applicants, the four review committees — two for science applicants and two for engineering applicants — reviewed the students’ dossiers and recommended the finalists. The USRA President and CEO selected the winners from among the finalists.