Posts tagged ‘NASA’

Inside Our September/October 2017 Issue

Since she was young, Zena Cardman has wanted to explore—to become a novelist, to venture out into the great outdoors. A high school interest in science led her down the path of more intellectual exploration. As an undergrad at North Carolina—where she earned a biology degree and minored in marine sciences, creative writing, and chemistry, with an honors thesis in poetry to boot—something clicked, and she realized science wasn’t just in the lab, but also out in the field. Research has taken her from the Gulf of Mexico to British Columbia, Antarctica, and now, Penn State, where she’s a Ph.D. candidate.

Next stop: outer space. As a member of NASA’s 2017 astronaut class, Cardman will train for missions beyond our own atmosphere and perhaps even into those of other planets, namely Mars. Meet Penn State’s newest astronaut—she would become the fifth alum to hold such a distinction—in our Sept./Oct. 2017 issue, which should begin arriving in mailboxes this week.

The new issue also includes an interview with Ben Locke,  director of Penn State’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). “Coping Skills & Growing Pains” explains how the campus counseling center is helping today’s college students navigate anxieties and pressures unlike those of previous generations. And: How did a Penn Stater and OB/GYN by training step in to deliver a baby gorilla? Read her story in “It’s a Boy!”

Plus, learn about the former Golden Gloves winner and Penn State’s only professional boxing champion; go beyond the bleachers and into the structure and history of Penn State football’s iconic home with a crash course on Beaver Stadium; and see how this year’s senior class is looking to break tradition with three separate gifts.

What do you think about the new issue? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us at

B.J. Reyes, associate editor

August 23, 2017 at 7:04 pm Leave a comment

For Zena Cardman, Space is the Place

Photo via NASA

Zena Cardman is getting an opportunity that is literally out-of-this-world. Cardman, a doctoral student in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is one of 12 people selected this month for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class.

It’ll take a while for Cardman to get into space—her class will participate in a two-year training program before she qualifies for a potential mission—but she could become the fifth Penn Stater to fly with NASA, joining Guion Bluford ’64; Robert Cenker ’70, ’73g; James Pawelczyk ’85g; and Paul Weitz ’54.

“I am beyond humbled and proud to be a part of our space program, and in the company of this new class of astronauts,” Cardman said, via Penn State News. “It’s such a diverse group, and I’m thrilled to join my experience in microbiology and field research with the test pilots, medical doctors, engineers, and everyone else.”

Cardman has been working toward a doctorate in geosciences, focusing her research on microbe-rock interactions; she says she’s currently studying cave slime and the “totally dark” environment it lives in.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 14, 2017 at 8:44 am 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — April 18, 2014

No place like home? A team of astronomers that includes Penn State scientists might beg to differ after the discovery of Kepler-186f, the first Earth-sized planet orbiting a star (not our sun) in a “habitable zone” that would allow for the presence of liquid water. Astronomy and astrophysics professor Eric Ford is co-author of a paper on the discovery, which utilized NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. It’s a big deal, although probably not somewhere any of us should plan on relocating to anytime soon: Kepler-186f is about 500 light years from Earth.

How their garden grows: Here’s a cool example of collaborative learning and making a positive impact in your community, compliments of students and faculty at Penn State Berks. Undergrads Melissa Sauer and April Moore, both future schoolteachers, were looking for a way to contribute to the local elementary school where both are student teaching. The decided to create a garden, and with the help of Berks faculty from social sciences and biology, as well as classmates majoring in biology, they turned the idea into reality. Now, the garden at Glenside Elementary is a hit, inspiring hands-on learning among a growing number of young students. Says Sauer, “some of the shyest, most withdrawn students are the most involved.”

Diamond days: The State College weekend forecast is 60s and sunny—not quite Blue-White Weekend warm, but still perfect weather for some baseball. The Nittany Lions, who host Illinois in a three-game series starting tonight at Medlar Field, are off to a great start under first-year coach Rob Cooper, including an 8-0 mark at home. I met Rob recently and came away impressed by his positive approach to building a winner in Happy Valley; he also claims to have beat James Franklin to the “dominate the state” recruiting motto, although, as he laughingly admits, “When Coach Franklin says it, they put it on the front page of the newspaper.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 18, 2014 at 12:03 pm 1 comment

Coming Soon: A Story on Lunar Lion

Lunar Lion Team Logo

A sneak peek at the stories we’re working on now.

Over the past several months I’ve had an enjoyable back-and-forth editing experience with one of our freelance writers, Patrick Kirchner, as we worked on a piece that we’re both proud of: A look at Lunar Lion, which is the only university-led team competing for the Google X Prize, a race to be “the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon.” I’ve been bothering Patrick less recently because the story is in our production process for the November/December issue, but we had a brief flurry of emails last week when this news broke: Penn State announced that a partnership with NASA that will allow students to test rocket engines for the agency.

How cool is that?


September 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm 5 comments

Finding a New Home—Very, Very Far from Home

Aug. 9, 2012; Justin Crepp..Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre DameIt’s not exactly close—1,000 light years or more—but scientists working with NASA have found a neighborhood that humans might conceivably be able to inhabit. Among the team that identified the two Earth-like planets orbiting the star Kepler 62 is Justin Crepp ’02.

Crepp, now an assistant professor of physics at Notre Dame, is one of the scientists whose work helped identify a pair of planets whose location appears suitable for liquid water—necessary for sustaining life as we know it. Crepp told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the hunt for such planets is “the holy grail” of his field; you can read more about it in this front-page story from today’s New York Times, as well.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Penn Staters Lead the Way to Mars

With apologies to all those hard-working athletes over in the UK, this might be the celebratory photo of the day: A couple of NASA engineers rejoicing after receiving confirmation that the Mars rover Curiosity had landed intact on the red planet.

That’s Brian Schratz ’06, ’08 MS embracing a colleague Monday morning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California, where they monitored the rover’s descent onto the Martian surface after an eight-month, 352-million-mile journey. Schratz, the entry descent and landing communications lead for the mission, is one of two Penn Staters on the team; senior propulsion systems engineer (and fellow College of Engineering grad) Ray Baker ’98 is the other.

Congrats to Schratz, Baker, and everyone who made this bit of history happen.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

August 6, 2012 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 513 other followers

%d bloggers like this: