Published: April 15, 2019

National Science Foundation logoThe National Science Foundation has awarded 32 prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships to CU Boulder students, including two from Smead Aerospace, paving the way for them to continue their innovative and impactful research on campus.

The awards, announced on April 9, recognize outstanding graduate students from across the country in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. CU Boulder's aerospace honorees are PhD students Samuel Fedeler (Advisor: Marcus Holzinger) and Brodie Wallace (Advisor: Scott Palo). The pair are among 2,050 nationwide winners selected from thousands of applicants across the country.

“The significant number of graduate students at CU Boulder receiving these prestigious fellowships is a true testament to our high caliber students, their intellectual merit and impact of their research,” said Leslie Reynolds, interim dean of the Graduate School. “We are so proud of them and the work they are doing.”

The 2019 winners (including 14 additional students who earned Honorable Mention recognition) represent a wide range of scientific disciplines from across campus, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics and more. Each recipient will receive a $34,000 annual stipend for the next three years as well as professional development opportunities.

“These fellowship recipients have the capability, dedication and drive to positively impact society through science and engineering,” said Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “I’m excited to see how their research plans mature over their graduate careers. For our college, this is a new record of NSF Graduate Research Fellows. I’m especially proud of the diversity and breadth of this cohort in which each of our departments and graduate programs is represented.

2019 Honorees

Samuel Fedeler

Advisor: Marcus Holzinger
Lab: Holzinger Research Lab

Over the course of my graduate studies at CU Boulder, I plan to research methods in image processing and multi-target tracking, with a focus toward applications for Space Situational Awareness and Spacecraft Navigation. Of particular interest to me is the application of theoretical developments to empirical data. I currently am developing a wide field-of-view telescope for use in tracking of Low-Earth Orbit satellites, and have performed several successful data campaigns with the instrumentation. Also in development is an 18-foot observatory that will be place on top of the new Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences building. Two telescopes will be operational in this observatory by Winter 2020. By the end of my PhD program, I hope to make advances in multi-target estimation algorithms using random finite sets, with an end goal of demonstrating algorithm effectiveness using lab instrumentation and live data.

Brodie Wallace

Advisor: Scott Palo
Lab: Space Technology Integration Laboratory (STIG)

During my first year at the University of Colorado Boulder, my research has been focused on the system design for the CubeSat: Inner Radiation Belt Experiment (CIRBE) mission. CIRBE is a CubeSat that will investigate the source and dynamic variations of electrons in Earth's inner radiation belt, which will allow us to better understand the potential effects of those electrons on satellite electronics and astronaut health. Moving forward in my graduate career, my research will focus on the development of a dual purpose CubeSat communication and situational awareness radar system, which will allow for formation flying CubeSats to share information and determine their relative positions to one another, allowing them to operate in close proximity without fear of catastrophic crashes. The system that I will be developing has the potential to further assist scientists to investigate the Earth's radiation belts and upper atmosphere by enabling a fleet of formation flying CubeSats to provide high spatial resolution measurements of space weather effects on Earth's atmosphere. This information is key for allowing electronics both in orbit, such as satellite flight computers, and on Earth’s surface, such as power transmission lines, to be better protected from space weather damage.