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NASA Grant to Expand Spelman Research and STEM Education

November 2022

STEM StudentsSpelman College was recently awarded a $600,000 grant from NASA that will help the College play a crucial role in the effective operation of earth-observing satellites. The five-year grant is part of NASA’s efforts to increase participation of Minority Serving Institutions in crucial Earth Science Division Surface-Based Measurement Networks.

The grant will not only provide instrumentation for Spelman but will also establish a research education program for Spelman students to work with Emory and Georgia Tech faculty and staff.

Through the grant, which will expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research and research education efforts at Spelman, air monitoring instrumentation and surrounding collaborations will be the foundation of a new PIPeline Program for Research Education (PIPRE) among Spelman College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and NASA Goddard Flight Center.

With an air monitoring site at Spelman, students will be able to observe and study findings in a real-time learning environment.

“We will establish a station of ground-based remote sensing for air quality monitoring,” said Guanyu Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Spelman College Department of Environmental & Health Sciences and the grant’s principal investigator.

“This will give our students a hands-on experience in instrument operation, data collection, and data analytics. This project will also support our students to work with research teams at Emory University and Georgia Tech to prepare them for their future graduate studies, said Dr. Huang.

In addition to providing funding for instrumentation installation and air quality monitoring, the grant will also provide Spelman students with geoscience and aerospace-related research opportunities directed by Emory and Georgia Tech faculty. 

“Engineers must be intentional in ensuring equity as we develop solutions to society’s problems. One way this is achieved is working with people of varying backgrounds and experiences. This dynamic introduces new perspectives that lead to greater productivity and equitable solutions,” said Raheem Beyah, dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and Southern Company Chair.

“The PIPRE program is another mechanism to expand and diversify the engineering pipeline as Spelman, Emory, NASA, and Georgia Tech collaborate to build future leaders that will address issues such as air quality, atmospheric chemistry, and more.”

“This project builds on the long-term collaboration between Spelman and Emory,” said Yang Lui, Ph.D., chair of environmental health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. “We look forward to this exciting training opportunity to expose Spelman students to a wide range of research activities at Emory in environmental health and Earth sciences.”

Spelman College was one of 15 institutions selected for funding, including other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) including Hampton University, Prairie View A&M University and Xavier University. The total funding across institutions is approximately $7.5 million over five years.

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