The New Jersey Space Grant Consortium (NJSGC) has granted Brookdale Community College affiliate status in the organization in recognition of Brookdale’s work with the NASA grant program for the past five years.
The NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program aims to promote general STEM education with an emphasis on aerospace while also promoting research and development in New Jersey. Rutgers University received a significant grant towards that goal. NJSGC coordinates the grant program among New Jersey institutions. Brookdale is one of the pioneer partners with Rutgers and started recruiting STEM fellows. The affiliate status allows Brookdale to more fully participate in NJSGC’s proceedings.
“For the past five years, it’s been wonderful to see how our students gained interest and confidence after being exposed to research projects,” said Dr. Gitanjali Kundu, NASA STEM grant co-coordinator and assistant professor in the biology department. Brookdale fellows have worked on projects such as respiration of salt marshes, bio-absorbable screws for ligaments, invasive fungi, drones, epilepsy treatment, hydroculture, Mars concrete and several others.
“Our students got the opportunity to engage in important projects which many thought was not possible at a community college with one of the fellows publishing a journal article,” said Kundu. Fourth cohort NASA fellow Jon Zukowski earned a NJSGC internship for the summer of 2018 from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center after completing his studies.
“Jon is the first Brookdale student to receive a NJSGC internship, and I am so proud of him!” said Kundu. She said she saw very bright young minds shaping into well-rounded mathematicians, scientists and engineers during their studies.
The sixth cohort of NASA STEM fellows have been selected. The Brookdale students selected are: Christopher Bettios, Marie Nicole Carnencia and Hayley Prelich. Each will receive a $2,000 grant.
So far, Brookdale has received approximately $20,000 from NASA with $100,000 in grants directly funding the 25 STEM student research fellowships and other funds for peer tutoring as well as outreach programs. Kundu and Dr. Susan Monroe, associate professor in the math department, are co-coordinators of the NASA STEM Fellowship program.
Since its inception, the NASA grant program has assisted 22 Brookdale students in furthering their research studies. The peer tutoring program has provided more than 2,000 hours in free tutoring services to students since 2015.