Fairfield University's School of Engineering welcomes Shelton High School students with experiment to be flown on the upcoming Shuttle Endeavor mission


Media Advisory


Image: NASA studentsWhat: Fairfield University's School of Engineering and the NASA Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium will co-host an event to honor Shelton High School students whose experiment was selected to fly on the historic last mission of the Shuttle Endeavour. Brendan Hermalyn, of Milford, a 2007 Fairfield graduate who is now a doctoral candidate at Brown, will discuss taking part in a research endeavor that led to the discovery of water on the moon. Weather permitting; a group of seniors will unveil a NASA-sponsored electric motorcycle that they developed.

When: Tuesday, May 17, 11 a.m.

Where: Alumni House, Fairfield University campus

Why: The festivities will feature a presentation from five Shelton High School seniors who have secured an experiment slot on the historic last flight of the space shuttle, launched today, May 16, according to Bill Taylor, the School of Engineering's associate dean and the Connecticut Space Grant campus director. The university is a member of the NASA Connecticut Space Grant College Consortium which funds student projects and internships as well as faculty research, including projects by Fairfield professors Ryan Munden on solar energy, Wook-Sung Yoo on software review technology, and Amalia I. Rusu's project, "Rapid Simulation Environment for Rotorcrafts."

As part of the program, the keynote speaker will be Brendan Hermalyn, who majored in physics and music at Fairfield. A member of the Rhode Island Space Grant College Consortium, he is finishing up his doctoral studies at Brown. "Brendan will share with us his Ph.D. work which led to the discovery of water on the moon," said Taylor. While pursuing a master's degree in mathematics at Fairfield, Hermalyn and fellow students Jessica Kurose, Mike Zafetti and John Stupak took part with top science students nationwide in NASA's "Microgravity University" program. Joining students from Ivy League schools and large research universities, the Fairfield team flew aboard a research jet based at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. They used the weightlessness environment produced onboard the special NASA DC-9 to conduct an experiment, "Splashless in Space," a project undertaken with the guidance of Dr. Leslie E. Schaffer, assistant professor of physics at Fairfield. Since then, Hermalyn earned a master's degree in mathematics from Fairfield and went onto Brown.

Background: As part of the NASA Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), Shelton students Leann Misencik, Kayla Russo, Jason Shnipes, Omar Sobh, and James Szabo, with their advisor Mary Clark, have developed an experiment entitled, "Development of Prokaryotic Cell Walls in Microgravity." The purpose of the experiment is to observe the effect of microgravity on the development and integrity of a cell wall. The group will study the differences of bacteria grown in the microgravity environment aboard the shuttle, and bacteria grown on Earth, in a controlled environment with standard gravity. After both samples of bacteria have grown for ten days, they will use an electron microscope to observe samples of the bacteria grown in each environment. They will then record any observable differences in cell wall structure. The shuttle is headed to the International Space Station; an initial launch was scrubbed.

 

Image: At a School of Engineering event, Brendan Hermalyn, '07, '08, a doctoral candidate at Brown, will discuss taking part in a research endeavor that led to the discovery of water on the moon. In 2007, Hermalyn, right, and then Fairfield students Jessica Kurose, Mike Zafetti, left, and John Stupak took part in NASA's "Microgravity University" program

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 17, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 305