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ISS National Lab Selects Illinois Graduate Student as the 2023 James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellow

A college student pursuing a Ph.D. in physical sciences was selected as the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory’s 2023 James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellow. The 12-month advanced learning experience is sponsored by the ISS National Lab through the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

2023 James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellow. Image Credit: Emma Green

As a fellow, Emma Green, a recent graduate of Illinois College and member of the university’s AERO-STEM Honors Program, will have the opportunity to hone the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in her pursuits of a career in aerospace. Throughout the program, she will work with both an ISS National Lab mentor and a subject matter expert in the aerospace industry.

This is an exciting opportunity for this year’s fellow to work with space industry experts and learn more about this burgeoning community,” said Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson (USAF Ret.), former chair of the CASIS Board of Directors and former interim executive director at CASIS. “I hope that through this year of learning, she can build knowledge and lasting relationships that will stay with her through her entire professional career.”

Green was selected from a group of five semi-finalists based on her outstanding academic and extracurricular activities. As an honors student, she’s been able to serve in various roles as a tutor, laboratory assistant, and supplemental instructor, helping others realize their passion for science. She also had the opportunity to participate in a summer research program at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.

I’m incredibly excited and honored to be chosen for this fellowship,” said Green. “I think it will help me prepare for my Ph.D. program and improve my skill set by bolstering my communication skills and giving me more opportunities to work virtually, which were limited at my small college.

While participating in the program, fellows are asked to propose a project they plan to work on. Green aims to focus on recycling space materials into useful products, such as 3D printing materials, food, fertilizer, water, and more. Serving as current president of the art club at her college, Green also hopes her two passions can combine as part of this fellowship. “One of my passions is visual art, so I’m hoping I can help create infographics that help explain this science to the public,” she said.

The fellowship is named in honor of Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson (USAF Ret.), who is widely regarded as one of the more distinguished and decorated military program leaders of the 20th century. Lt. Gen. Abrahamson began his military career as a fighter pilot in Vietnam and was ultimately selected for the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program, which was later canceled. After his time as a pilot and astronaut candidate, Lt. Gen. Abrahamson rose through the ranks of the Air Force and NASA, including his assignment as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Flight. Additionally, in 1984, President Reagan appointed Lt. Gen. Abrahamson as the first director of the Strategic Defense Initiative—known as the “Star Wars Program”—until he retired from service in 1989.


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