“Grad students also can get funded through the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program,” Christina Richey, a Program Officer in the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division, said. “The student writes a proposal, then the Principal Investigator [a professor] writes a proposal as part of the package, then it is reviewed using the same process. NASA fellowships are reviewed in a fashion very similar to the R&A process, so it is a way to help grad students become familiar with the process before they may themselves become PIs.
“NASA has a website that provides one-stop shop information on fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, and NASA-wide internships,” Richey said. “Those can be undergrad or graduate level opportunities for people to come to different Centers and work with NASA scientists or engineers for six to 12 weeks. The internships are for all students; the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships are for graduate students; R&A grants in Space and Earth Sciences – ranging from $50,000 to $1 million – are primarily for professors, who can include grad students as part of their teams.”
To Program Officer of the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division Christina Richey’s view, all academic relationships NASA has are extremely important to the agency, the nation, and the future of space exploration.
Most major U.S. universities have some relationship with NASA, which has seen an overall increase in R&A proposals in the last 10 years. Funding for those has remained relatively consistent, despite tight federal budgets and sequestration.
“But those are strong, healthy programs, so there are plenty of opportunities available, which has led the growth we’ve had in proposals,” Richey noted.
While NASA’s focus is on U.S. universities and it does not send funds to foreign government entities, it does have partnerships with non-U.S. universities, and many programs have collaborators from foreign institutions attached to individual efforts. That offers NASA an active link to research and new ideas from a global academic perspective.
In Richey’s view, all academic relationships NASA has are extremely important to the agency, the nation, and the future of space exploration.
“It is one of the major outputs of future scientists with whom NASA will be working and a main route for people to eventually come to work for NASA,” she said. “And the fundamental science of the universe or solar system or planet is based on these efforts, making them the fundamental research foundation for what we are doing at NASA. These are the programs that take data from various NASA missions and figure out what to do next.