SHU students receive NASA grant

Four Seton Hall students were awarded fellowship grants for their undergraduate student research for 2010-2011.

Jimmy Barrientos, Andrew Klump, Christopher Childers and Ed Twomey received New Jersey Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Student Research Fellowships of $2,000 each.

“It is a privilege to get the award, and the fellowship will definitely help fund my research – both for materials for research and by providing money for travel to present my research,” Twomey said.

NJSGC, administered by Rutgers University and the Stevens Institute of Technology, was established from a grant from NASA in 1991. It aims to develop programs that further science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Each student worked with an approved Seton Hall faculty supervisor to conduct research outside of class on their personal research projects.

To apply, the students wrote a research proposal giving a background on the project, tentative budget, and research timeline, Twomey said.

Twomey said he plans on using his winnings to further his research process.

Dr. Yufeng Wei, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, supervised Twomey’s research process and said Twomey well deserves the fellowship award for his dedication and diligence in scientific research in the laboratory.

Childers said he felt lucky to have the opportunity to do research outside of the classroom.

“Physics majors generally have an interest in how the world around them works,” he said. “The chance to involve myself with relevant research to improving our surroundings seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up.”

Childer’s supervisor, Dr. Weining Weng said Childers is very talented and independent and winning the fellowship is very encouraging for him.

Dr. M. Alper Sahiner, chair and associate professor of physics, supervised Barrientos and Klump on their separate research proposals on new methods to develop next generation solar cells.

“I think working in a research laboratory with a faculty member provides invaluable experience to the student that he/she cannot get in a typical lecture class,” Sahiner said. “I believe hands-on undergraduate research is an important part of the education of any science major.”

According to Sahiner, conducting research and winning fellowships makes graduates very competitive for graduate school or industrial job applications.

This is the first year that Weng and Wei’s undergraduate students received the fellowship.

Sahiner had two students last year, Michael Newby and Michele Jamer, receive the grant.

Barrientos said he is still in shock over winning because he did not think he would be selected.

“I think (winning) might open some doors for me that I did not have available for my future, so I guess time will tell what outcome I’ll receive from this opportunity,” Barrientos said.

According to Sahiner, NASA tracks the progress and career path of award recipients for up to 10 years to correlate the effects of the undergraduate research in their future careers.

NJSGC directors are scheduled to visit Seton Hall campus in March to meet the science faculty and students for future research grants/fellowships for students and faculty.

Joanna Toole can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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