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Two KU seniors selected for Astronaut Scholarship

Monday, September 19, 2016

LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas students were selected to receive the 2016 Astronaut Scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Their achievement will be recognized in a special event featuring NASA astronaut Sam Gemar.

Annie Lynn, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship recipientSeniors Annie Lynn and Emily Smith will be honored during the Aerospace Engineering Colloquium at 4 p.m. Sept. 23 in 130 Budig Hall. Gemar, who has been on three space shuttle missions, will make a presentation. The event is open to the public.

Candidates for the scholarship, which provides up to $10,000 for a student’s junior or senior year, must be nominated by their university professors and must exhibit leadership, imagination and exceptional performance in their field of study. Only universities selected by ASF may nominate students for consideration. The accomplishments of the Astronaut Scholar alumni have profoundly affected the nation through technological innovations in health care, energy, defense, aerospace, homeland security, and much more.

Annie Lynn of Overland Park is the daughter of Debra and William Lynn. She was homeschooled and is now majoring in chemical engineering. She began working in the lab of Professor of Molecular Biosciences Liang Tang while still in high school and has earned co-authorship on multiple publications. Her research involves using advanced X-ray crystallography techniques to analyze complex biochemical protein assembly mechanisms in viruses at the atomic level. A member of the University Honors Program, Lynn also is in the School of Engineering’s Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program. She is active in the Society for Biomaterials, the Chinese Culture Club and ballet. In April, Lynn was selected to receive a Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Emily Smith, 2016 Astronaut Scholarship recipientEmily Smith is the daughter of Douglas Smith of Soldier and Jane Schmits Smith of Seneca. She is a graduate of Olathe Northwest High School and at KU is majoring in physics and interdisciplinary computing. Since starting at KU she has worked with Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alice Bean and Professor of Physics and Astronomy Phil Baringer in the Particle Physics Laboratory. With them, she has been involved in research at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland. Her current research focuses on the search for the theoretical top-prime particle in relation to the recently-discovered Higgs boson. A member of the University Honors Program, she is involved in the Undergraduate Physics Committee and the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau.

Lynn and Smith will be formally honored at the event by Gemar as a representative of ASF.

Astronaut Charles “Sam” Gemar began his journey to NASA in 1973, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school. Gemar earned a bachelor of science in engineering at the U.S. Military Academy in 1979 and went on to work at Ft. Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield as an assistant flight operations officer and flight platoon leader for the 24th Combat Aviation Battalion.

NASA selected Gemar as an astronaut candidate in June 1985. Gemar has flown on three shuttle missions, logging more than 580 hours in space. On his final shuttle mission in 1994, Gemar flew as a mission specialist aboard STS-62 Columbia. This shuttle flight accomplished 60 experiments in various areas including, protein crystals growth and robotics. It was also the lowest shuttle flight ever flown at an altitude of 105 nautical miles.

He retired from NASA in 1998. From 2006 until 2009, Gemar worked as an on-air personality for HDNet and covered live space shuttle launches out of Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Currently, Gemar is a principal of Vintage Fliers Inc. near Wichita.

Gemar has earned numerous awards and honors, including three NASA Space Flight medals, two National Defense Service Medals and an honorary doctorate of engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

The Astronaut Scholarship strives to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing college scholarships for the very best and brightest students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees.

Established by the six surviving members of the Mercury 7 mission, the foundation now includes astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and space shuttle programs.The ASF has awarded more than $4 million in scholarships to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars. In addition, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation strongly promotes the importance of science and technology to the general public by facilitating unique programs and special events.

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