2019 Astronaut Scholars Nominees

Texas A&M undergraduates Camella Carlson ‘20, Oscar Gonzalez ‘20, Hannah Lehman ‘20, and Maxwell Throm’21 have been nominated for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s 2019 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 32 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 2019 nominees all the best while final selections are being made.

Camella Carlson ‘20

Camella Carlson ’20

Camella Carlson is a junior biomedical engineering honors student from Olathe, Kansas. Ms. Carlson is currently working under Dr. Kristen Maitland to develop an optical tissue phantom of the lung to optimize a system for the optical detection of tuberculosis. Ms. Carlson also worked at the summer Harvard-MIT Heath Science & Technology program where she designed a new device for image-guided gastrointestinal microbiota sampling. Ms. Carlson is involved with the American Medical Student Association, as well as Biomedical Engineering Ambassadors Program and the Society for Optics and Photonics. In the future Ms. Carlson hopes to pursue either a Ph.D. or MD/Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in order to “combine basic science discoveries with problems dictated by physicians and patients to radically improve the speed, accuracy, and simplicity of diagnoses and treatments.”

Oscar Gonzalez ‘20

Oscar Gonzalez ’20

Oscar Gonzalez is a junior chemistry major with minors in physics and mathematics from San Juan, Texas. Mr. Gonzales works on two projects in Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee’s lab to develop materials that will allow for increased computer efficiency. 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. When asked how these research experiences have shaped him, Mr. Gonzalzaz said that “Working on these projects has helped me become the scientist I want to become. In addition, I want to share and use everything I have learned with the rest of the world.” As part of this spirit of sharing scientific discovery, Mr. Gonzalez is an Undergraduate Research Ambassador where he works to facilitate research opportunities for undergraduate students. He is also a member of The Academy of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas (AURA Texas) and a Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention. This is the second time Mr. Gonzalez has been nominated for this award.

Hannah Lehman ‘20

Hannah Lehman ’20

Hannah Lehman is a junior honors student majoring in Aerospace Engineering with minors in mathematics and computer science. Ms. Lehman works in the Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory under Dr. Valasek where she improves systems for human-robot integration. Ms. Lehman has also completed internships at Rockwell Collins and Collins Aerospace where she developed machine learning and automation techniques. In addition to her research and work experience, Ms. Lehman is also a University Scholar and a member of Engineering Outreach. When asked about how she sees her current interests fitting into her future goals, Ms. Lehman replied that “I know that my biggest interests, agriculture and space, are both global human endeavours. I went on a study abroad trip to Brazil last summer at Universidade de São Paulo, Campus São Carlos, and plan to continue to gain international experience in order to create solutions that are applicable to global problems. Applying this experience to my future work and research is the next step in the road to creating an inexpensive, viable learning algorithm to help people around the globe.”

 Maxwell Throm’21

Maxwell Throm is a sophomore physics and mathematics double major from San Antonio, Texas. His current research takes place under Dr. Roland Allen, where he analyzes possible interactions between dark matter and standard matter particles. Mr. Throm explains that his research “is the hunt for dark matter, a form of matter that accounts for much of the mass in galaxies yet interacts with ordinary matter very weakly and doesn’t interact with light at all.” Mr. Throm is active in the physics and astronomy department, where he acts as a teaching fellow, student instructor, and peer mentor. Mr. Throm also works with Dr. Tatiana Erukimova to conduct outreach for the physics department. As a part of this outreach, Mr. Throm has helped develop material for the Discover, Explore, and Enjoy Physics and Engineering workshops put on by the department.


The recipient(s) of the Astronaut Scholarship will be honored at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award Ceremony on October 16, 2019 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 http://natlfellows.tamu.edu.

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