KU graduate student receives prestigious fellowship from NASA to develop radar
From KU Office of University Relations
By Michelle Ward
A University of Kansas graduate student recently was named one of only 52 students across the nation to receive a prestigious NASA fellowship.
John Paden, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, will use the fellowship to help develop a radar that aims to measure ice thickness and determine bedrock conditions below the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
These findings should help scientists better monitor the melting of the ice sheets and their possible contribution to rising sea levels. The ice sheets hold more than 6 percent of the Earth's fresh water. More than 11 cubic miles of ice is melting from the sheet annually -- enough to raise sea levels by .005 of an inch each year. The rise in sea levels may be a consequence of global warming.
The renewable three-year Earth System Science Graduate Student Fellowship from NASA includes an $18,000 stipend and a $6,000 allowance for student and university expenses, and it makes Paden's contribution a part of NASA's overall research efforts.
Paden will receive his master's degree from KU in August. While finishing his thesis this summer, he has started preparations for his doctorate work with the help of his advisers, Prasad Gogineni, Deane E. Ackers distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Chris Allen, director of Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Laboratory and associate professor.
Paden works under the direction of Gogineni in RSL at KU's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center. Gogineni secured grants late last year for the PRISM -- or Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurement -- project, which will measure ice thickness and determine bedrock conditions of ice sheets.
"The PRISM project is fascinating to me on two levels," Paden said. "First, the project involves cutting-edge research involving a mix of practical hands-on experience and theoretical work. Second, I am very interested in the earth's ecosystem and the consequences of our interaction with the environment."
Paden also said he received a great deal of support from both his advisers.
"I feel very honored to have received this award. I have been given tremendous support from both Dr. Allen and Dr. Gogineni," Paden said. "I am certain that without their continuing support through out my master's career I would not have been able to receive this award."
Paden submitted a six-page description of his proposed research titled "Development of a Monostatic/Bistatic Synthetic Aperture Radar System for Two Dimensional Mapping of Basal Ice Conditions." The proposal included a detailed budget, a letter of recommendation from a faculty adviser and background sketches for both the student and the adviser.
"John Paden is an outstanding student who has distinguished himself academically and through his research," Allen said. "By receiving the NASA fellowship, John joins a prestigious list of RSL graduates who have received NASA fellowships."
Paden followed up this national award with an ITTC honor. He was chosen as the first recipient of the ITTC Graduate Fellowship. He will receive $2,500 for each of two years.
"We are very pleased to have John Paden as the first Ph.D. fellow," said Victor Frost, director of ITTC and Dan F. Servey distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "His recent NASA fellowship is a clear indicator of his ability to contribute to the state-of-the-art research in his field."
More than 500 fellowships have been awarded since the NASA fellowship began in 1990. NASA created the program to increase the number of highly trained scientists and engineers in areas related to its mission: aerospace, space and Earth sciences; space applications; and space technology.
For more information, contact ITTC.