Six UAB students awarded NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium scholarships

Six University of Alabama at Birmingham students have been awarded NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium scholarships.

Stream Nasa ScholarsFrom left to right, top to bottom: Riley Nick, Jonathan Perkins, Logan Burnett, James Walts, Trent Culverhouse, and Margaret Birks.Six University of Alabama at Birmingham students have been awarded NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium research scholarships.

Under the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, the Alabama Space Grant Consortium is a supportive network of seven research universities and institutions in the state of Alabama. Operating under the primary mission of motivating and inspiring the next generation of aerospace researchers, the program seeks to educate promising undergraduate students in the fields of space science and technology.

“I am incredibly proud of these students for being awarded the NASA Alabama Space Grant scholarship; however, I am not surprised,” said Kecia Thomas, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These scholarships are evidence of the incredible privilege it is to study in CAS and at UAB, and I know these brilliant young scholars will continue to make us proud.”

The six UAB recipients are:

Riley Nick, a sophomore majoring in chemistry with a concentration in polymer chemistry, is a member of the UAB Honors College.

“I am very thankful for this scholarship and the many opportunities that it brings,” said Nick, a Trussville native. “As a little kid, I visited the NASA space center in Huntsville many times and even stayed there for a weekend for one of their school programs. So, it makes the scholarship really special to me because this is what little me dreamed of.”

Jonathan Perkins, a Montevallo, Alabama, native, is an advanced physics major minoring in computer science and mathematics.

“I am very thankful to have won this scholarship,” he said. “It is tangible proof that the effort I have put in, as well as my decision to change career directions, really will pay off in the long run.”

Logan Burnett is a first-generation college student majoring in physics with minors in mathematics, chemistry and mechanical engineering. A native of Helena, Alabama, Burnett says the scholarship feels like a huge financial relief.

“I am planning to take more courses than my scholarship covers in fall 2023, so this will help me pay for the extra credit hours,” Burnett said. “UAB, specifically the UAB Physics Department, has helped me change and mold the way I think about the world.”

With interests and aspirations in nuclear fusion, Burnett says this award is one the Department of Physics helped prepare him for, specifically faculty who encouraged him and other students to apply. Burnett is a member of the UAB Honors College.

James Walts, an Elkmont, Alabama, native, is a UAB fifth year master’s program student majoring in biology and a member of the UAB Honors College on a personalized pathway.

“Having been able to participate in undergraduate research since the summer of my freshman year has given me the experience to compete with the best of my peers,” Walts said. “Coming to UAB and working with its faculty has shown me that, given enough hard work, I can achieve things that seem out of my reach.”

Margaret Birks is a Columbus, Mississippi, native double-majoring in chemistry and physics with a minor in mathematics. Birks is a member of the Physics Departmental Honors program. 

“Growing up, I always wanted to be a scientist, so being a NASA scholar, especially this early in my college career, feels surreal,” Birks said. “Each professor I have gotten to know at UAB truly cares for their students’ success, especially in the Physics Department. The mentoring I have received outside the classroom has well prepared me for this opportunity, and I am very thankful to all my professors who have helped me reach this point.”

Trent Culverhouse, a rising senior and physics major, says UAB’s opportunity and access to research are unmatched. Culverhouse is a member of the UAB Honors Program on a personalized pathway.

“I was allowed to join a research laboratory under Dr. Wenli Bi and have been traveling and performing experiments at Argonne National Laboratory. I was even given the opportunity to publish my first paper,” said Culverhouse, a Homewood, Alabama, native. “I am seriously thankful to all those who have contributed to my education and overall knowledge of the field of condensed matter physics and who have ultimately led me to be able to accept this award.”

This competitive scholarship is awarded to promising rising juniors and seniors who demonstrate a proficiency in research and an aptitude for space-related careers.

Interested UAB students will be able to receive more information via the Office of National and International Fellowships and Scholarships in the future.