Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Two University of Minnesota Students Named 2018 Astronaut Scholars

Two students in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities have been awarded scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

The prestigious, competitive scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, engineering and the natural and applied sciences.

The scholarship awards up to $10,000 for a year of undergraduate study. In addition, recipients will receive mentoring and professional development support, attend the Astronaut Foundation’s Innovators Gala in Washington D.C. and have the opportunity to participate in other Astronaut Foundation events.

Aliza Beverage, a junior from Roseville, Minnesota, studies the origins of stars. The summer before she entered the University of Minnesota, the Physics and Astrophysics major began conducting research with Professor Robert Gehrz on transient and variable stars using the university’s telescope at Mount Lemmon, Arizona. Following her first year, she worked with a team at LSU to develop a quantum noise filter for the LIGO gravitational wave detector, which confirmed her interest in projects that analyze and interpret astronomical data. This led her to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she spent last summer studying 102 colliding galaxies and modeling their energy distribution to understand properties of star formation.

This year, Aliza has been conducting related research on star formation with Professor Claudia Scarlata and this summer she will conduct an independent project using data from the Hubble telescope at the Niels Bohr Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In addition to her research, Aliza founded the University of Minnesota Astronomy Club and has raised funds to send students to observatories in Arizona. She is also an officer of the Society of Physics Students, a member of Women in Science and Engineering and was a member of the women’s rowing team. She is a Bentson Family Scholar and an IB diploma graduate of Robbinsdale Cooper High School.

Elizabeth Zudock, of Katy, Texas, plans to combine engineering and medicine to create cost-effective therapies that help to resolve healthcare inequalities. In pursuit of this goal, the junior Chemical Engineering and Chemistry major has been working for three years with Professor Benjamin Hackel to engineer new proteins with clinical applications. Her research, which helped to develop a cancer-targeting protein, is the basis of two articles, one of which has been published in Molecular Pharmaceutics. She is currently working on new research with probiotic bacteria to target and kill antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Elizabeth has also developed her commitment to health care as a licensed Emergency Medical Technician with the University’s Emergency Medical Services and as a Nursing Unit volunteer at Fairview Hospital. On campus, she is a member of the University Honors Program; the vice president of the Microbiology Club; the Community Service Coordinator for Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society; and a medic for the Pride of Minnesota Marching Band. A graduate of Seven Lakes High School, she is a National Merit Scholar, a University of Minnesota Gold Scholar and a University nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was founded in 1985 by the Mercury 7 astronauts, one of whom, Donald “Deke” Slayton, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering in 1949. Prevented from piloting the second U.S. manned orbital space flight by an irregular heart rhythm, Slayton served as NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations and later was cleared to pilot the docking module in the Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975.

The Astronaut Scholarships are awarded to students at 35 universities with historic ties to the U.S. space program who demonstrate leadership, imagination and academic excellence in the study of mathematics, science or engineering. Twenty-nine students from the University of Minnesota have been recognized as Astronaut Scholars.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students who are interested in applying for the scholarship in the future may consult with the Office of National and International Scholarships by contacting Timothy Jones at [email protected].

For more information on the Astronaut Scholarship, visit

A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics
American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
Read More
A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics