Aspiring Astronaut Among CU Students to Receive Science Scholarships Nov. 17

Published: Nov. 13, 2008

Ryan Kobrick, a University of Colorado at Boulder doctoral candidate, has had the dream of being an astronaut since he was a kid. He is now working toward that dream while studying the abrasive nature of lunar dust, with the goal of helping scientists design better, safer and more durable spacesuits and spacecraft.

Kobrick is one of 33 science, engineering and medical students from CU-Boulder and other Colorado schools who will receive a total of $165,000 in scholarships at the Colorado chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Students Foundation's annual scholar luncheon on Monday, Nov. 17, at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus.

Each year the foundation awards scholarships to U.S. citizens who demonstrate strong character, excellence in their work and financial need. Foundation members have awarded more than $66 million and funded more than 12,000 scholarships since the foundation's inception.

"The ARCS Foundation-Colorado chapter is all ladies and all volunteer," said Val Peterson, president of the ARCS Foundation's Colorado chapter. "We raise money for science scholarships for four recipient schools -- CU-Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines and UC Denver. In this time of shrinking resources and an increased need for doctors, scientists and engineers, the ARCS Foundation is needed now more than ever to keep our country strong."

Dr. Michael Bristow is the ARCS Foundation Colorado chapter's "Honoree of the Year" for 2008-09 in recognition of his contributions to the scientific community. Bristow, a professor of medicine and co-director of the Colorado Cardiovascular Institute at the UC Denver School of Medicine, is being honored for his instrumental work in explaining key molecular mechanisms underlying heart failure and the use of beta-blockers for its treatment. He also is a founder of Myogen Inc., a company formed by CU faculty to research and treat heart failure.

The ARCS Foundation was created in 1958 after the Sputnik launch. The national women's organization is fully operated by volunteers, so all of the donations raised for scholarships go directly to scholarships, according to Peterson.

The following are CU-Boulder students who will receive ARCS Foundation scholarships for 2008-09 and the degrees and areas of study they are pursuing:

o Ryan Kobrick is working on a doctorate in aerospace engineering sciences. He is studying the abrasive nature of lunar dust, specifically the fundamentals of abrasive wear. A better understanding of abrasive wear will help scientists design better and safer spacesuits, spacecraft and robotics, allowing for longer space missions.

o Kyle Lampe is working toward a doctorate in chemical engineering. His research is in tissue engineering, and his thesis project is to develop polymer-based hydrogel and drug delivery systems in order to tissue engineer the re-creation of the nigrostriatal pathway, the area of the brain primarily affected by Parkinson's disease. He wants to be a professor and continue his research in the tissue-engineering field.

o Kyle Landgraf is working on a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. His research involves understanding chemical signals within cells so researchers can design new therapeutic strategies for treating diseases where cell malfunction is prevalent. He plans to pursue a research career in biochemical engineering.

o Lisa Mayhew is working toward a doctorate in geological sciences. Her research focuses on helping the understanding of the origin and evolution of life on Earth and the potential for life on other planets like Mars. Specifically, she studies microorganisms that survive in extreme conditions associated with volcanic environments to understand the relationship between the geochemistry of these environments and the metabolic capabilities of the microorganisms.

o Jonathan Metts is working on a doctorate in aerospace engineering. His research involves designing a spacesuit that would have radiators built into it, allowing for long-term exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond. Current spacesuits use water as a coolant, an approach that will not work on Mars. He plans to work as a research engineer either for NASA, a national laboratory or a private company in the space industry.

o Colby Stoddard is pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry. His research is focused on identifying antibiotic targets by determining the three-dimensional structure of RNA molecules that are only found inside bacteria. Understanding the structure of these RNAs will allow the design of novel antibiotics to create a new line of defense against infectious disease. He wants to find a job where he can use his biochemistry background to create new metabolic pathways in bacteria so that industrial chemicals can be produced in a more sustainable and feasible manner.

o Will Wieder is working on a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology. His research focuses on nutrient and carbon cycling in tropical forests, and includes experiments to determine how species composition and precipitation may impact soil processes like respiration. He plans to work in academia teaching and conducting research.

A short video featuring CU-Boulder ARCS scholar Ryan Kobrick is available on the CU-Boulder news Web site at

For more information about the Colorado chapter of the ARCS Foundation or to make a donation visit