Andy Hyland
Office of Public Affairs

Two KU seniors earn Astronaut Scholarships

Thu, 06/13/2019

LAWRENCE — The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation named two University of Kansas students as Astronaut Scholars for the 2019-20 school year. Both of the recipients also earned Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships this year.

The recipients of the award:

  • Tyler Nguyen, a senior from Kansas City, Kansas, majoring in chemistry with a minor in astrobiology
  • Eleanor Stewart-Jones, a senior from Mission majoring in chemistry with a minor in French

Both students will join an elite group of 52 recipients from 38 universities who will each receive up to $10,000 and opportunities to participate in professional development events while being mentored by scholar alumni, C-level executives or an astronaut.

“Both Tyler and Eleanor are outstanding selections for this award. They are both up-and-coming talents in their fields, and I know they will represent themselves and their university well,” said Steve Hawley, a KU professor emeritus of physics & astronomy and a former NASA astronaut who serves as the chairman of the scholarship’s campus committee. “I look forward to seeing the impact they will have through their work and their research.”

The six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts founded the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 1984 as a means to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors to keep the U.S. on the leading edge of technology. The Astronaut Scholarship specifically recognizes juniors and seniors who have demonstrated accomplishment in research and the potential to be future leaders in research and technology.  Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs have joined the foundation.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation accepted KU as a partner institution in 2014 based on the excellence of the university’s STEM academic programs for undergraduates and the strong research capabilities and opportunities for undergraduate students. Admission into the scholarship program is highly competitive and only the top research universities in the country are chosen to participate. 

KU’s Office of Fellowships coordinates the campus nomination process each year.

More information about KU’s recipients is below.

Tyler Nguyen is the son of Tung and Huyen Nguyen of Kansas City, Kansas, and he is a graduate of Piper High School. He is majoring in chemistry with a minor in astrobiology. Nguyen is planning a career researching chemical modifications of materials and proteins for nanotechnology and bioengineering applications. He works in the lab of his research mentor, Associate Professor Cindy Berrie in the Department of Chemistry, developing model systems for enzyme-based sensors for disease diagnosis, a biological application of nanotechnology. He has presented his research in several settings locally and regionally, including at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Eleanor Stewart-Jones is the daughter of Brian Jones and stepdaughter of Loes Niedekker, and daughter of Teresa Stewart and stepdaughter of Scott Leigh. A graduate of Shawnee Mission East, her hometown is Mission. Stewart-Jones is majoring in chemistry with a minor in French and is planning a career in research mimicking the chemistry done in the active sites of proteins that use metals. She works in the lab of her research mentor, Professor Tim Jackson in the Department of Chemistry, researching the reactivity of manganese model systems. Stewart-Jones serves as a research ambassador for the Center for Undergraduate Research and recently presented her research at the Max Planck Matter to Life Conference in Tegernsee, Germany.

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