Brown Named Astronaut Scholar

Harvey Mudd College physics major Nina Brown ’19 was named an Astronaut Scholar for the 2018–2019 academic year by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). She is the 25th Harvey Mudd student to receive the honor.

In August, Brown attended the ASF Innovators Gala in Washington D.C., where she received her award and spent time getting to know other foundation members.

“The gala was a lot of fun,” she says. “I sat next to two men who run a company working on clean hydrogen energy; they had a lot of great advice for working in science. Additionally, one of the keynote speakers was astronaut Dave Scott. He told the story of the Gemini VIII mission, flown by Neil Armstrong and himself. The spacecraft’s steering wasn’t working properly, and they had to return to Earth with a malfunctioning thruster. He detailed how he and Armstrong made it back, including lots of exciting and scary moments.”

While the scholarship doesn’t include opportunities for that type of space exploration, it does offer the exciting benefit of a mentoring program intended to help scholars explore their career options. “I’ve been assigned a mentor who works as a systems engineer with the federal government,” says Brown, who is interested in condensed matter and materials physics. “I’m excited to learn about that path. When I applied for the scholarship, I did not quite realize that the ASF provided so many opportunities for scholars beyond the initial scholarship. I’m excited to be a part of a network of thoughtful, successful people who care about science and improving the world around them.”

After graduation from Harvey Mudd, Brown plans to work in industry for a few years, then pursue a PhD in condensed matter physics. “I’d ultimately like to work in a field that has a clear, positive impact on people’s lives, such as developing clean energy technology or working in science outreach,” she says.

ASF scholarships provide up to $10,000 each for college students pursuing careers in science, engineering and mathematics. The scholarship rewards students who exhibit initiative, creativity and excellence in their chosen field.

The ASF is a nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury astronauts. The Astronaut Scholarship is the nation’s largest, merit-based monetary award given to science and engineering undergraduate students. Harvey Mudd College is one of 27 institutions—and the only non-doctorate granting school—selected by the foundation to participate in the program.