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Physics Grad Student First at SCSU to Receive NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Fellowship

In a historic achievement for the Southern Connecticut State University Physics Department, graduate student Xander Petroski has been recognized with the esteemed Fall 2023 NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CSGC) Graduate Research Fellowship. Petroski is one of three Southern students to receive the grant this fall, and the university’s first graduate student to receive this prestigious accolade.

The grant, which can pay up to $10,000 based on the student’s request, was awarded in full to Petroski, emphasizing the significant financial support available through the CSGC Fellowship.

Reflecting on the award’s impact on his academic and professional journey, Petroski noted, “This feels like a significant accomplishment, as it’s my first time applying for any monetary grant for academic research. This project will form the basis of my thesis, propelling me toward applying for Ph.D. programs after graduation.”

The journey commenced during the Physics Department Week of Welcome Reception, where Associate Professor of Physics Dana Casetti, the SCSU NASA CSGC representative, unveiled the transformative opportunities within the CSGC. 

“I found it to be a captivating opportunity, so I reached out to Dr. Casetti about it,” said Petroski.

Petroski’s work is predicated on data analysis from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), contributing to a larger program overseen by Casetti, who provides ongoing guidance and mentorship.

While Casetti acknowledges the highly competitive nature of CSGC awards, she also urges students not to be deterred for fear of rejection.

“These are opportunities our students can embrace,” said Casetti. “The competition varies, but it’s a chance for students to navigate the process of assembling an application, writing a proposal, and seeing how it unfolds.”

Applicants undergo a comprehensive evaluation, considering elements such as purpose and objectives, alignment with NASA’s Mission Directorates, methodology, feasibility and timeline, budget narrative, expected outcomes and assessment plan, and career potential. Grant amounts depend on the number of applicants and awardees.

For Southern students interested in learning more about the program, the NASA CSGC Spring 2024 call for proposals is currently underway, with a deadline of January 17, 2024. 

To explore Casetti’s work and course offerings, click here

For more information about the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, click here.


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