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Henderson Earns Second Earhart Fellowship

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Laura Henderson, a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department, has been awarded an Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International, a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. She also won the award in 2011. 

“The Amelia Earhart Award recognizes top students who have demonstrated outstanding research achievements. The best universities in the country are seeking students with these distinctions, and it is a testament to our program that Laura is here,” said College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet.

Laura Henderson

“I am so honored to have received the Amelia Earhart fellowship once again.  Personally, this fellowship carries a special significance because of Amelia's great legacy and example.  I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with wonderful women of Zonta International who have made this fellowship a reality. I am also very thankful to my husband Michael for his support, and my advisor Dr. Kamesh Subbarao for his guidance.”

The Amelia Earhart Fellowship, for $10,000, is awarded annually to women pursuing a Ph.D. or doctoral degree in aerospace-related sciences or engineering. Thirty-five women around the world are named Fellows each year. Since the award’s inception in 1938, more than 1,300 Fellowships have been awarded to women in 65 countries, totaling more than $7.5 million.

In 2012, Henderson was the recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She receives a $30,000 annual stipend and up to $10,500 for college expenses through 2015. Her research involves designing software that will determine a piece of debris’ size, what it’s made of and how to get around it. The information she is gathering also will help scientists calculate how much fuel or propulsion is needed to maneuver around the space trash. She receives debris location information from numerous radar installations dotted around the globe, then shares that accumulated information with those facilities.

“Laura is a top student, a trail blazer who brings in a lot of excitement and curiosity when dealing with a research question. Her perseverance along with a solid foundation in her subject matter makes her the ideal candidate going after this research problem, that deals with developing advanced algorithms for locating and avoiding space debris. I look forward to hearing about her many great accomplishments in the future,” said her advisor, Kamesh Subbarao.

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