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Student to receive Astronaut Scholarship




Katie Gisi, an NDSU senior majoring in agricultural and biosystems engineering, has been selected to receive the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year. The scholarship is for $10,000.

Charlene Wolf-Hall, vice provost for academic affairs, said, “The Astronaut Foundation’s process is highly competitive, and Katie was selected based upon her exemplary academic performance, ingenuity and unique aptitude”.

Gisi grew up on her family’s farm and ranch in New Rockford, North Dakota. “Living and working on a farm made me appreciate how much hard work goes into producing the food we eat and the material we use, and I realized that I wanted to make agriculture part of my future career,” Gisi wrote in her scholarship application. “After graduation, my career goals are to either work in the field of agricultural residue and plant utilization or soil and water conservation.”

Sreekala Bajwa, professor and chair of agricultural and biosystems engineering, nominated Gisi, noting she has been an undergraduate research assistant conducting bio-based materials research in Bajwa’s lab since 2014.

“Last semester, Katie took up an independent project evaluating the application of plant fibers, particularly cattail, in ceiling tiles,” Bajwa explained. “In her research, she will be evealuating cattail as a fiber source in comparison to wheat and oak fibers.”

Gisi presented her research during the NDSU Explore event in November and plans to publish her work in a journal such as Industrial Crops and Products.

In a letter of recommendation, Dilpreet Bajwa, associate professor of mechanical enginneering, described Gisi as hardworking, smart and multitalented. “Her work is always well organized, methodical and meticulous,” Bajwa wrote. “Her strengths include that she’s a good team player, reliable, punctual and respectful. That is remarkable in someone of her age.”

Gisi held an engineering internship with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service during the summer of 2015. Her activities on campus include being the peer mentor progam coordinator for Alpha Epsilon, and she earned first place in the Soil, Water and Enviroment category at the 2014 Agricultural Technology Expo.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which is actively supported by 73 former astronauts, has a mission to help the United States retain its world leadership in science and technology through scholarships for outstanding students who are pursing degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $4 million in scholarships to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars.

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North Dakota State University
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