Hayden and Holt to Receive the 2018 Astronaut Scholarship

LAUNCH is proud to announce the 2018 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Scholars, Ashley Holt ’20 and Ashley Hayden ’19. Ashley Holt is a Biomedical Engineering major in the College of Engineering and Ashley Hayden is a Biology major in the College of Science. Both students were selected based on demonstrated initiative, creativity and excellence in undergraduate research and academics in their fields, and the potential to become leaders in their scientific and professional pursuits.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation encourages students who want to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. The Astronaut Scholarship is one of the most significant and prestigious scholarships awarded to STEM students; the accomplishments of selected ASF alumni have greatly impacted various fields through technological innovations and greater understanding of underlying principles. ASF strives to develop new partnerships and encourage networking throughout the nation to promote STEM awareness in the United States’ competitiveness for innovation.

Ashley Hayden '19 posing for a portrait
Ashley Hayden ’19, Biology

Ashley Hayden ‘19

Ashley Hayden, from Friendswood, Texas, began her research the summer after her sophomore year at Dr. Merlin’s lab. After working under the supervision of a graduate student, Samantha Liams, Hayden began an independent project involving genetic knockout mutant monarch butterflies. She is now studying the magnetic sensing abilities of her own knockout mutant and its effects.

As with Holt, Hayden’s exposure to research changed her entire life trajectory, “research solidified my vocation in life and has given me a sense of passion that the medical field never did.” Hayden is a new Undergraduate Research Ambassador and wants to pursue a PhD in Biosciences, and eventually obtain a postdoctoral position so that she can become a professor and teach at a research institution.


Ashley Holt '19 posing for a portrait
Ashley Holt ’20, Biomedical Engineering

Ashley Holt ‘20

Ashley Holt, from Kingwood, Texas, started her research the summer after her freshman year as one of Texas A&M’s Beckman Scholars. Over the course of her research in Dr. Ry Young’s lab, she helped identify a new lysis protein in a particular phage, PhiKT, and her new work is focused on characterizing this new protein.

Holt says that her involvement in research changed her mind about her career goals, “before I started the Beckman program, I knew I wanted a career in science and engineering, but I wasn’t sure what that really entailed. […] after my experience in the Young lab, I see myself doing research.” This will form the path for her long-term goal of pursuing a MD/PhD and performing clinical research that addresses the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Hosted by Texas A&M’s LAUNCH office and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, the September 20 ceremony will honor the selected students and feature a presentation by Astronaut Charlie Duke, the tenth and youngest person to walk the moon. Duke will discuss his personal education and professional experience to illustrate the power of STEM knowledge and potential as well as presenting Ms. Hayden and Ms. Holt with their awards.

To read more about how LAUNCH: National Fellowships helps prepare outstanding students to compete for nationally-competitive awards such as the Astronaut Scholarship with the generous support of the Association of Former Students, please visit http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.

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