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Texas A&M Undergraduates Nominated for the 2018 Astronaut Scholarship

Texas A&M undergraduates Oscar Gonzalez ‘20, Ashley Hayden ‘19, Ashley Holt ‘20, and Quinton Lawton ’19 have been nominated for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s 2018 Astronaut Scholarship.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) seeks to support the brightest scholars in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) while commemorating the legacy of America’s pioneering astronauts. The ASF has supported undergraduate students across the nation in pursuing their education for more than 30 years. The Astronaut Scholarship is one of the most significant merit-based scholarships in STEM fields that can be awarded to an undergraduate. Students must be nominated by faculty based on achievements in their chosen field. Out of a pool of 42 Universities, ASF typically chooses one recipient from each school. However, Texas A&M undergraduate students have proved themselves to be incredibly strong candidates and ASF has awarded multiple of our students in the past.

Texas A&M University has had 30 honorees since the scholarship was established in 1984 by the surviving Mercury 7 astronauts. More than 100 astronauts have contributed to the cause, resulting in over $4 million in scholarships.

The LAUNCH office wishes all four of the 2018 nominees all the best while final selections are being made.

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

Ashley Holt ‘20

Ashley Holt, a biomedical engineering major from Kingswood, Texas, researches bacteriophages, the viruses of bacteria, and how new antibiotic strategies can help build defense against bacterial disease. Ms. Holt says “[her] short-term professional goal is to pursue a MD/PhD after [her] undergraduate degree. In the long-term, [she] want[s] to use clinical research to confront a global threat: antibiotic resistance.” She hopes to pursue a MD/Ph.D. and further develop her career in clinical research. She is a Beckman Scholar, a University Scholar, and was most recently awarded the 2018 Goldwater Scholarship.

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

Ashley Hayden ‘19

Ashley Hayden, a biology major and bioinformatics and psychology minor from Friendswood, Texas, researches the monarch butterfly’s ability to sense magnetic fields. Her work could become the model system for identifying the yet unknown magnetoreceptor molecule(s). Along with participating in multiple Honors programs within the University, Ms. Hayden is also a University Scholar, a Biology Honors Program Ambassador, and was most recently accepted as a LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Ambassador. Ms. Hayden’s long-term goals include to one day “teach in academia, lead a research lab, and if given the opportunity, even lead an honors program.”

Oscar Gonzalez '20 posing for a portrait
Oscar Gonzalez ’20, Chemistry

Oscar Gonzalez ‘20

Oscar Gonzalez, a chemistry major and physics and mathematics minor from San Juan, Texas, focuses on solving technological problems and hopes to one day become a professor. Mr. Gonzales works in two research projects, both done at Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee’s lab. He synthesizes hematite films for photoelectrochemical water splitting and creates ways to push the deposition process towards higher film quality and higher water splitting efficiency. He is a Century Scholars Program mentor, facilitating the transition of high school seniors into their freshman year at Texas A&M. Mr. Gonzalez is also a Science Leadership Scholar and an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Quinton Lawton '19 posing for a portrait
Quinton Lawton ’19, Meteorology

Quinton Lawton ‘19

Quinton Lawton, a meteorology major and oceanography minor from Houston, Texas, researches the relation between tropical cyclone behavior and global climate change and is a LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Ambassador. “This position [as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador] lets me share my passion with others and encourage them to deepen their involvement in research. […] I don’t just participate but lead, while inspiring others to do the same”, says Mr. Lawton. Undergraduate Research Ambassadors strive to expand and enrich student engagement in undergraduate research. In long-term, Mr. Lawton “[hopes] to carve a new path forward and serve as an example for others long into the future.”

The recipient of the Astronaut Scholarship will be announced at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Ceremony on September 20, 2018 at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

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


Amélie Berger ’15 Awarded $5K Graduate Fellowship

Congratulations Amélie!

Phi Kappa Phi at Texas A&M University

College Station, TX – Amélie Berger ’15 of Paris, France, has been awarded a Graduate Fellowship worth $5,000 by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi–the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Berger also received a $500 scholarship as the nominee from the local chapter.

Berger, an environmental geoscience major with minors in oceanography and meteorology, graduated from Texas A&M University in May 2015 and will be pursing a Masters in Environmental Science at the University of Virginia.

Berger (center) at the 2014 PKP Induction Ceremony, with Dr. Steven Quiring (left) and Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (right). Berger (center) at the 2014 PKP Induction Ceremony, with Dr. Steven Quiring (left) and Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (right).

Berger is among 51 students nationwide to receive a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship. Since its creation in 1932, the Fellowship Program has become one of the Society’s most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $345,000 annually to deserving students for first-year graduate or professional study. Currently, 51 Fellowships of…

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It Takes a Village: Undergraduate Service Scholar Savannah Sublousky

What kind of capstone do you do as a Psychology major thinking of becoming an Occupational Therapist?   Savannah Sublousky ’15, a University Honors student and first generation Aggie from San Antonio, elected to try one of our new capstone options: the Undergraduate Service Scholars (USS) Program. The emphasis of the USS Program on community service and self-knowledge resonated with Sublousky’s personal values of love and giving, her Psychology major, and afforded her the opportunity to work closely with children to see if pediatric occupational therapy was a path she was interested in pursuing. Sublousky’s project involved developing projects with a group of preteens at the Boys and Girls club to encourage them to serve those who most need help, and hopefully to instill in them the desire to apply their knowledge in the future as leaders who give back to their community. What Sublousky created was a village of community effort that enriched the lives of many more than she expected.

Savannah Sublousky '15, with members of the Boys and Girls Club.
Savannah Sublousky ’15, with members of the Boys and Girls Club.

One way the preteens at the Boys and Girls club are learning about themselves as future leaders is by finding ways to give back to the community now. Sublousky’s conversations with the preteens as she taught them about what being homeless meant made the preteens realize that although they themselves have no one at home in the afternoons to care for them, there are people who have no place to call “home” at all, and that they could help by making “sock stuffers” of things the homeless need. As Sublousky looked for a way to obtain supplies for the preteens to create sock stuffers of personal hygiene items like ChapStick, soap, and shampoo, she realized that members of her church, Connecting Point Christian Church, might be willing to donate those items. And indeed, her church group came through with everything she and the preteens needed to make the sock stuffers.  Sublousky was then able to take the sock stuffers down to the Twin City Mission to support their efforts to help their clients. This reinforcing circle of community service from church to Boys and Girls Club to Twin City Mission, facilitated by Sublousky as a USS, has provided multiple groups with the opportunity to work together to make a difference.

And what has Sublousky herself learned from this experience thus far? Confidence in her ability to design and pull together a project that required coordination of multiple agencies, to communicate effectively with preteens, and to understand better where preteens are in their concerns and world view. She now understands better what it would be like to have an occupational therapy practice focused on children and preteens, and has found a way to channel her desire to help others and the values of her church to develop a whole cadre of community-minded people. Sublousky also says that working with the preteens has made her take a step back personally to appreciate the simple things she has and the joy of the moment as they do, rather than constantly stressing about every little thing.

What is Sublousky planning on having her preteens do next? She’s already finished the second project, where she and the preteens created Valentine’s Day cards for patients at one of our local hospitals to teach the preteens about the value of “unconventional” love that is not aimed at family or friends. Her next goal is to have the preteens make bracelets, not to keep for themselves, but to give to those they are glad to have in their lives in appreciation.

Savannah Sublousky and her students showing off the cards they have made.
Savannah Sublousky and her students showing off the cards they have made.

To learn more about the Undergraduate Service Scholars program, including contact and application information, please visit