NASA Astronaut and ARCS Scholar Alumna Completes First All-Female Spacewalk
LaGrange GA – October 21, 2019—ARCS Scholar Alumna Jessica Meir spent her workday on Friday, October 18, floating in space. Tasked with repairing a major power source on the International Space Station (ISS), Meir was accompanied by fellow American astronaut Christina Koch, making Spacewalk 421 the first all-female walk outside a spacecraft.
Audiences around the world viewed the spacewalk via multiple cameras situated on the space station and attached to Meir’s and Koch’s spacesuits. Around the world, classrooms at all levels made up a large part of the audience.
Out of only 43 spacewalks to include women, Meir is the fifteenth US woman to walk in space.
After the seven-hour, 17-minute repair job, Meir expressed her gratitude to those who dared to dream before her and make her job a possibility.
“Today was a special honor as we recognize that this milestone symbolizes exploration by all who dare to dream and work hard to achieve their dreams. It’s a tribute to those that paved the way for us to be where we are. We hope to be an inspiration to all future explorers.”
On Monday, October 21, Meir participated in a NASA TV news conference in which Koch and she answered questions. When asked about her personal feelings during her first experience in space, she replied, “I will never forget that moment of coming out of the hatch and looking down and seeing just my boots and Earth below. It was such a spectacular and beautiful sight. It was really quite overwhelming.”
Meir’s future plans? During her six-months’ stay on the ISS, she will conduct experiments and operations. Her dream is that she will then be part of the NASA team to return to the Moon.
ARCS Foundation is incredibly honored and proud to claim Jessica Meir as an ARCS Scholar alumna and recognizes the effort that she has made to advance science in America and the world. Congratulations, Jessica Meir, on this incredible accomplishment and best of luck with future spacewalks and research while on the ISS.
With a tool bag in hand, Jessica Meir floated out of an airlock on the International Space Station on Friday and went to work in an exhilarating moment for NASA and her alma mater, UC San Diego.
Meir joined fellow astronaut Christina Koch in performing the first all-female spacewalk, which played out 254 miles above Earth as they repaired a power control unit that recently broke.
Squeezed into 300-pound spacesuits, Meir and Koch meticulously fixed the component as they moved from light to darkness to light while streaking around the planet at five miles per second.
More than 225 people have performed spacewalks since the first one was carried out by a Russian in 1965. But until Friday, the dangerous high-wire act had never been done by an all-female team.
In many ways, the 7-hour, 17-minute performance looked routine. But it wasn’t. NASA told Meir (pronounced meer) that she had to be mindful of the dangerously sharp edges of the station’s superstructure. And Koch (pronounced Cook) needed to make sure that she didn’t run into her teammate.
As a professor of journalism at San Diego State University for 25 years, Barbara Hartung, PhD, maintained a keen understanding of the global issues impacting everyday lives. She still does. Now retired, she and her husband, Jim, a former banking executive, travel the world and actively engage in local civic activities.
Both are proponents of the vibrant scientific research community in the San Diego area and at Scripps Research, in particular. Barbara joined the San Diego chapter of the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation, which lends financial support to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in scientific fields. “Many of the young scientists we supported would come speak at our meetings,” she says, “and I always found the graduate students from Scripps Research to be really impressive.” (The graduate program at Scripps Research is consistently ranked among the ten best in the nation by U. S. News & World Report.)
She and Jim were moved to add their personal support to the graduate program at Scripps Research, as well as making regular unrestricted gifts. “We’re not huge donors but we give what we can because science affects us so directly,” says Jim. “We believe the students at Scripps Research are doing such creative things and we need more dedicated young people in science.”
The couple also attend as many lectures and public events at Scripps Research as they can. “We don’t miss a one,” says Jim. “It’s just magical what scientists are doing. The faculty and students there are outstanding, and we know we’re supporting the best with our donations.”
From Science Fiction to the Future of Cancer Treatments
Science fiction can inspire the future, becoming the basis for many scientific and technological advances. For one ARCS Scholar, it ignited a passion.
ARCS Scholar Ashley Kroll credits the world of science fiction with starting her passion for Nanoengineering. “I learned about this field when I started reading science fiction in high school, especially the works of Michael Crichton,” said Kroll. “I found out how material properties can change at a very small scale from reading these books and now I am studying the use of nanoscale materials for biomedical applications.”
As a graduate student at the University of California San Diego, Ashley is currently investigating how immunostimulatory nanoparticles can be coated with the membrane from cancer cells to provoke the immune system to form strong and specific immunity against tumors. She is constantly inspired to continue her work by the potential lives it could change, “Nanoparticles and nanoparticle properties have so much untapped potential for interacting with the human body in ways current medicines cannot,” said Kroll. “With proper engineering and design, I can envision nanomedicine as having a huge impact in improving many diseases. I specifically feel driven to work on cancer treatment as it has a devastating impact on so many families. In fact, in the middle of my graduate career, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer — which brought a whole new meaning to my work and inspired me to work harder than before.”
Ashley is grateful for the opportunity the ARCS Scholar Award provides her, allowing her to offset her living costs and audit additional courses to further her research. “As an ARCS Scholar, I have been able to audit courses related to my research which has significantly improved and sped up my project progress. Without the award, I would not have had time to supplement my immunology background, and I have no doubt it would have made my research much more challenging!”
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San Diego ARCS Members Making an Impac
San Diego Members Making a Difference
Longtime Member Reflects on ARCS Legacy
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A fresh sense of energy is flowing through ARCS San Diego Chapter. The Chapter recently celebrated a major milestone: distributing more than $10 million in local scholar awards over its 35-year history, while maintaining an endowment of more than $2.5 million. How did they do this? The answer lies in personal connections, social and educational interactions, and inspirational leadership and passion.
GROWTH AND RETENTION THROUGH PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
As ARCS San Diego looks toward 2020 and its official 35th anniversary, Chapter President Holly Heaton believes the catalyst for the continued growth of the Chapter is in “creating lasting connections through member experiences.”
Before her appointment as President, Heaton served as the San Diego Chapter’s Vice President of Membership in 2018. Her work with the committee led to more than a dozen new members.
Despite this surge in newly recruited members, Heaton says retention requires continued effort, adding, “If you don’t recognize your donors, founders, and members, then you won’t keep them.” To aid the recruitment and retention efforts, the Chapter writes personal communications to members and holds luncheons in communities where members live.
SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL INTERACTIONS
ARCS San Diego also maintains members and donors by hosting two social events each year. These events range from educational tours and field trips with scholar alums to lectures with dynamic speakers in the STEM arena. One event, named after the novel The Perfect Predator, featured the book’s author, Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, as keynote speaker. A San Diego resident and one of TIME magazine’s 50 Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018, Strathdee recounted the story of how she raced against the clock to find a bacteriophage, a ubiquitous virus, which would fight an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that had infected her husband. ARCS San Diego gained two new members through this event.
Heaton is also working to relocate chapter events from hotel ballrooms to more interactive spaces that are relevant to ARCS mission and, to the extent possible, to scholar alums. For example, the chapter will host its 2020 Scientist of the Year fundraiser at the San Diego Natural History Museum. She further plans to align speakers with the chosen venues as an opportunity to show how the mission lives on through scholar alums.
INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND PASSION
Heaton’s goals are based on personal experience. She became a member of the San Diego Chapter after attending the chapter’s Scientist of the Year dinner in 2010. ARCS Foundation appealed to her background in healthcare and interest in the sciences, she says. The inspiration for her leadership and passion for growing the chapter, however, was spurred through the relationships she has made. “Getting to know the wonderful women that work so hard for this organization has made promoting the cause all the more worthwhile.”
“Surpassing $10 million in scholar awards shows the determination of this group of volunteer women,” says Heaton. “Advancing scientific competitiveness is our mission, and funding the research of these outstanding young people is our way of achieving this vision for the future.”
To learn more about chapter leadership and ways ARCS National supports growth locally and nationally, visit the ARCS website.