Student Research Conference Goes off Without a Hitch

On April 9, 2021, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) hosted the 2021 Student Research Conference for the first time in a virtual environment with support from the Old Dominion University Office of Distance Learning,


During the conference, 36 Graduate Research Fellows and 12 Undergraduate Scholars presented their research findings in areas such as Aerospace, Structures and Materials, Astrophysics, and Applied Science. The event was attended by students, faculty, NASA and business / industry representatives, state agency representatives, and several state government representatives.


“I really enjoyed the virtual Student Research Conference,” said Chris Carter, Deputy Director, Virginia Space Grant Consortium . “These are some amazing students doing high quality and important research that is of much interest to NASA.”


One of the conference’s Graduate Research Fellows, John Elliott, Virginia Tech, was surprised by the sheer diversity of disciplines being represented in the conference.


“I work in materials chemistry, so everyone around me (including people presenting their work) is focused on chemistry, physics, or materials,” said Elliott. “But this conference had work even from the social sciences, which was a nice change of pace and helped to put everyone’s work into a greater context.”


Although Virginia Space Grant Consortium was unable to host the 2020 Student Research Conference,  the success of virtual programming over the year to date of the pandemic, we have been able to make this year’s conference a reality.


Carter said that the event’s success was due in large part to dedication from the VSGC  staff.


“A huge thank you to Joyce Kuberek and Jan Dotzauer for their excellent coordination of the many details and logistics required to put on a virtual research conference,” said Carter. “ODU’s Office of Distance Learning has been great to work with as well for these online events.”


In addition to the fellows and scholars, Dr. Yolanda Shea, project scientist, NASA Langley Research Center, gave a presentation on climate change and Earth reflected sunlight.


“It was wonderful to have Dr. Yolanda Shea from NASA Langley as the keynote speaker for our Student Research Conference.  Dr. Shea spoke to her research on what is needed for robust monitoring of Earth’s changing climate,” said Mary Sandy, Director, Virginia Space Grant Consortium. “I appreciate the wonderful advice she gave our scholars and fellows and the simple suggestions she gave us for how we us individuals can make a difference through simple actions on our part.”


The Student Research Conference has highlighted the Scholars and Fellows research annually since 2005.