Press Release for Monday, July 21, 2008

UNF NASA Intern Awarded John Mather Nobel Scholarship

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

University of North Florida student Victoria Martin, a Southside resident, is among the first recipients awarded a John Mather Nobel Scholarship by The Henry Foundation, Inc. She received a $3,000 scientific travel grant to be used over a two-year period.

The funding for the scholarships originated in a contribution from the John and Jane Mather Foundation for Science and the Arts, which in turn was funded from the award of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics to Dr. Mather.

Martin, a UNF senior, is a summer intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She is among five interns that are the first John Mather Nobel Scholars. The awardees were selected by a committee of directors and former directors of NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program consortia.

This is the second time the 23-year-old has spent her summer as an intern at Goddard Space Flight Center. Martin, who is majoring in math and physics at UNF, is working in the experimental cosmology branch at Goddard on the PIPER (Primordial Inflation Polarization Explorer) mission concept.

“My time at Goddard has been a really great experience for me,” said Martin, who plans to continue the same type of work in graduate school. “I have used my past experience to rise to a whole new level, executing self-contained projects from start to finish.”

She has spent her summer designing and testing the magnetic shielding for an instrument that will measure polarization modes in the cosmic microwave background. If a certain polarization mode is detected in the background radiation, it will be direct proof for the Theory of Cosmic Inflation, which is a correction to the Big Bang Theory, according to Martin.

The UNF senior is a member of the Society of Physics Students at UNF and tutors students in math and physics in the Academic Center for Excellence on campus.

The NASA Student Internship Program is an intensive 10-week summer research program for diverse undergraduate and graduate students interested in careers in aerospace-related fields. Students are paired with a scientist or engineer in a laboratory setting to actively participate in a research project using the expertise of a mentor.

Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists and engineers dedicated to learning and sharing their knowledge of the Earth, solar system and the universe.