WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For three ambitious students, hard work and perseverance pay off. Not only have they been recognized for their research and academic achievement, but they are now part of a prestigious group of industry innovators and pioneers. All of this, before they even finish their time in class.
Seniors Joseph Kirchhoff, John Putziger and Abigail Sipes are the 2021 recipients Astronaut scholarship. The honor will provide them with up to $ 15,000 for tuition, books and fees and a significant boost in their professional pursuits.
Founded in 1984 by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts, the Honorary Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is nationally known as one of the highest merit-based monetary scholarships awarded to students of undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The scholarships are awarded to students in their junior and senior years of college. The ASF has awarded an astronaut scholarship to a Purdue student since 1987.
This year Astronaut scholarship recipients include Joseph Kirchhoff of the College of Engineering and Honors College; John Putziger at the College of Science and Honors College; and Abigail Sipes at the College of Sciences.
The new fellows were honored at the Innovators Gala in Orlando, Florida. Check out the latest Purdue recipients below and learn more about them in this short video.
Kirchhoff, of Southport, North Carolina, is a senior in the College of Engineering with a major in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He is the recipient of the Astronaut Fellowship sponsored by Jim Hays in memory of Gene Cernan.
As an undergraduate student, Kirchhoff has many accomplishments. He participated in research with the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center, where he focused on composite simulations and modeling; and the Space Flights Project Laboratory, focused on advanced space systems and in-flight automation. He also worked as an intern for Boeing Co. at its Washington and South Carolina sites.
“I was impressed with his vision of driving the future of composites in aerospace by improving their predictability and reliability,” said R. Byron Pipes, John L Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the School of Materials Engineering .
Kirchhoff’s academic honors include the Bruce Helfert Memorial Award as an Outstanding Junior in Purdue College of Science or Engineering; Induction Tau Beta Pi, for which he was nominated for his distinguished academic performance and exemplary character; and induction into the Sigma Gamma Tau Honor Society.
Kirchhoff was student director of the service organization Boilers In Action and head of the industrial relations committee of the Sigma Gamma Tau Honor Society.
“The scholarship is a way to identify leadership in STEM and give them a resource to pursue their dreams,” Kirchhoff said.
He plans to get a doctorate. in computer engineering and wants to “take machine learning and artificial intelligence and apply them to creating better tools for engineers to design composites.”
Putziger is a senior at the College of Science and Honors College. From Falls Church, Virginia, he majored in chemistry (ACS) and political science. Her astronaut scholarship is sponsored by Marc and Sharon Hagle.
Putziger explained his enthusiasm for networking with other astronaut researchers and hearing from key industry people at the gala.
“We were able to connect with some of the other students in attendance and get a better feel for it, but we also got to hear some wonderful introductions from people like Jerry Griffin, who was the former flight coordinator during the Apollo era, and also from Neil. Armstrong’s sons, ”he said.
A aspiring chemist, Putziger plans to attend college to study the use of organic metallic materials to create new reaction pathways. His undergraduate research includes work with the Jianguo Mei Research Group since 2018. He has also been an active mentor at the College of Science as a tutor in chemistry and undergraduate teaching assistant in physics.
Putziger’s honors include the Wollinsky Fellowship, the Wendell and Marcia Dilling Fellowship, the Stuart and Tobias Memorial Award, the Outstanding Chemistry Sophomore Award, and the STEM Naval Horizons Award, all for his outstanding work in the field of chemistry research.
Putziger is also heavily involved in student life, with membership in a variety of clubs and activities. Included are the Purdue Overwatch Club and the Project X Campus Safety Council. He also participated in a study abroad program in Bogotá, Colombia to study science and social progress.
Sipes of Honolulu is a senior in the College of Science pursuing a major in biochemistry. She is the recipient of the CoveyLove Legacy Fund, sponsored by the Astronaut Scholarship. Research has been a priority for Sipes throughout his undergraduate years. She has worked on numerous projects as a research assistant at the University of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center in Honolulu. There, she helped develop a therapeutic treatment for cancer patients, characterize tumor cells, and other work on understanding tumor progression. Sipes worked as a research assistant at Purdue, conducting research involving T-DNA mutants to understand the functions of arabidopsis genes, and organized streamlined research efforts for seven undergraduates. Sipes continued his research work as an intern for Bayer Pharmaceuticals this summer.
Sipes plans to use his experience to further his path to work in oncology and plans to pursue a doctorate. in biomedical sciences.
“I’m looking at immune oncology, using the immune system to help fight cancer,” she says.
As someone driven to improve people’s health, Sipes served as President Timmy Global Health Advocacy at Purdue. She co-chaired the Biochemical Club’s awareness program. She has also been an active participant in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the ACS Graduate Preparation and Professional Development Boot Camp, and was a Team Leader for Boiler Gold Rush.
Sipes has won several academic awards and scholarships. She is especially grateful for the astronaut scholarship and the opportunity to attend the gala where she says; “I have met so many amazing people. I will definitely stay in touch with them.
The National and International Scholarships Office (NISO), located at Honors College, helps all Purdue students apply for prestigious scholarships. Students interested in such awards are encouraged to contact the NISO office by email at [email protected], or visit the NISO website.
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Writer: leslie valiant
Media contact: Jim Bush, [email protected]