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NDSU physics student to receive Astronaut Scholarship

Photo of Carly Snell


Carly Snell, an NDSU senior majoring in physics, has been selected to receive the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year.

She is one of 45 students from across the country to be selected for the $10,000 scholarship.

Snell is scheduled to be recognized Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Innovators Gala in Washington, D.C. Apollo 11 command module pilot Mike Collins is set to be the keynote speaker at the event. Snell received the NDSU Honors Program Award for Experiential Learning to fund her trip.

“Astronauts have always been some of my top role models, so it is incredible to be recognized by a foundation created by astronauts,” Snell said. “This scholarship is more than a financial award; the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation also provides mentoring and networking opportunities. So, I am extremely grateful for the support and guidance this award will provide to my education and career for years to come.”

Matthew Salafia, coordinator of NDSU’s Honors Program, said Snell was nominated by Alexander Wagner, associate professor of physics, and Sylvio May, chair and associate professor of physics. The University Scholarship Committee then selects the two best candidates to forward to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

“The Astronaut Scholarship candidates must be excellent students and researchers. Of all of the NDSU candidates nominated, Carly was the committee’s unanimous choice. The quality of her research and her ability to translate that work into a passionate and engaging statement set her apart from the field,” said Salafia.

"Carly is an exceptional student who truly deserves the recognition that comes with the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship,” said May. “Already in her first year as a physics major, she made substantial contributions to a theory research project that would later be published. Carly clearly stands out for her academic excellence and high level of engagement."

Snell, who is from Alexandria, Minnesota, is vice president of NDSU’s Society of Physics Students. Her research focuses mainly on modelling soft condensed matter and fluid dynamics. However, Snell is most interested in theoretical and computational astrophysics.

“I feel very fortunate to know exactly what I want to do with my life. Every experience I have had thus far with research, coursework and extracurricular activities has nudged me toward a career in academia,” Snell said. “I know I will attend graduate school to pursue a doctorate in astrophysics, and I cannot wait to spend my life conducting research and providing future students with the education and experience they need to succeed.”

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which is actively supported by more than 80 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.

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