One year after Exuma native, Revardo McKenzie interned at the Kennedy Space Center for a summer program, two more Bahamians are being afforded the opportunity. Bahamians Justin Lockhart and Oliver Lundy have been awarded the Alf Thompson Memorial Scholarship (ATMS) to intern at the Kennedy Space Center this summer.
Lockhart and Lundy will spend eight weeks (June 4- July 28) working with research scientists and engineers from academia, NASA and corporations in the fields of aeronautical studies, biological sciences and space-related technology. The 21-year-olds beat out a field of over 25 candidates vying for the scholarships.
Both young men have just graduated from college -- Lockhart earned an engineering degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Lundy pursued studies in biology and chemistry at The College of The Bahamas.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for me to use the internship as a stepping stone to my professional engineering career," said Lockhart. "I will be a practicing engineer-in-training as of mid-June and will have a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering."
He added, "I view this award as a gift to my family, friends and teachers at St. Andrew's School and Bucknell University. If it wasn't for them, I would not be where I am right now".
Lockhart and Lundy will have the opportunity to build relationships with noted scientists and researchers in the fields of space sciences, biotechnology and engineering.
Dr. Jamie Foster, a researcher with the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida will be working closely with both Bahamians. Her areas of study are environmental microbiology, microbial ecology and astrobiology. In the past, Dr. Foster has worked with Bahamian educators and students at the Bahamas Marine EcoCentre's field station in the Exuma Cays. As a result of her experience there, she has opened the door for qualifying Bahamian students to work at the Kennedy Space Center through the ATMS.
"Though all the fields of internship offered by this program are fascinating, the area that interests me most is the study of biological sciences" said Lundy who plans to pursue his masters and doctorate degrees in biotechnology. "The end goal of this is to make The Bahamas more energy efficient and green. I could help this country begin to maintain self-reliance in terms of food and possibly even energy generation, or by helping to make The Bahamas more palpable to eco-tourism."
Lockhart will be working with Dr. Phil Metzger, a NASA research physicist who has worked in the space program since 1985. Some of his areas of research include the utilization of space resources and finding ways to address the dwindling of non-renewable resources on earth and its effects upon civilization.
Upon completion of the eight-week summer internship, Lockhart and Lundy will be asked to share their experiences with other Bahamian students. A spokesperson for the ATMS indicated that giving back to others in the community is an important aspect of the scholarship. Visits to local high schools, COB and other learning facilities will be arranged so that others interested in the fields will be encouraged to pursue their aspirations.
The Alf Thompson Memorial Scholarship was established in 2011 by the Bahamas Marine EcoCentre (BME), a non-profit organization promoting awareness and respect for the Bahamian environment through research, education and art. This is the second year the ATMS has been awarded. McKenzie was the first scholarship recipient. BME hopes to be able to continue offering this opportunity for Bahamian students in the coming years.
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