October 21, 2019

Purdue student selected as Astronaut Scholar

Kadlubowski award Natalie Kadlubowski receives a 2019 Astronaut Scholarship from retired NASA astronaut Curt Brown during the 2019 Innovators Gala on Aug. 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Emily Jourdan) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University student with a dual major in chemistry and chemical engineering has been selected a 2019 Astronaut Scholar.

Natalie Kadlubowski, of Lebanon, Ohio, and 51 other awardees from 38 universities were honored at the 2019 Innovators Gala on Aug. 24 in Washington, D.C. Natalie, who is double-majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, is a student in the Purdue Honors College, the College of Engineering and the College of Science. She has participated in undergraduate research with Jianguo Mei, an assistant professor of chemistry, in his Laboratory for Polymer Innovation for Advanced Organic Electronics.

“Natalie is an excellent example of a student who has embraced the holistic and interdisciplinary approach to education that we champion,” said Rhonda Phillips, dean of Purdue’s Honors College. “We look forward to seeing the ways she will impact her field in the years to come.”

Kadlubowski portrait Natalie Kadlubowski. (/Purdue Engineering Photo/Vincent Walker) Download image

To earn an Astronaut Scholarship, a student must be nominated by a university-wide Purdue committee and apply through the National and International Scholarships Office, housed in Purdue Honors College. Her undergraduate research was no small part of her qualifications. She began working in Mei’s laboratory as a freshman, and has since been cited as a co-author on two publications in her field, and is currently leading a research project. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, with an interest in pharmaceutical research.

“Natalie is an undergraduate researcher operating at a high level, and she also brings this enthusiastic nature to the lab and meetings,” Mei said. “I strongly believe she will carry the Astronaut Scholarship with her toward immense success in her field.”

This research led to a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from Purdue in 2018, in which she continued research that started in Mei’s lab. In May, she was one of two Purdue students awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for high-achieving STEM students.

“We are so excited that Natalie, one of the outstanding students majoring in chemical engineering, has been selected for the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship,” said Mung Chiang, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. “Her academic and leadership activities, as well as research in polymer science as an undergraduate, also illustrate the remarkable learning opportunities for our students in and outside of classroom.”

Kadlubowski and other scholars received a $10,000 scholarship, a paid trip to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Innovator’s Weekend, and the opportunity to network with fellow scholar alumni and the founding astronauts.

“To me, the most meaningful aspect of being named an Astronaut Scholar is the recognition of all the hard work I've put into my education and research,” Kadlubowski said. “I'm looking forward to seeing where a Ph.D. will take me over the coming years, and of course, none of this would have been possible without all the support I've received from my family, friends, and mentors I've met along the way.”

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to students in their junior and senior year of college studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics with the intent to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree. The scholarship was founded by a group of astronauts – Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton – who were test pilots when NASA recruited them for space missions in 1959.   

Media contact: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541, paul102@purdue.edu

Writers: Logan Judy, 765-496-0153, ljudy@purdue.edu

DeEtte Starr, Starr, starrd@purdue.edu 

Sources: Natalie Kadlubowski, tkadlubo@purdue.edu

Jianguo Mei, jgmei@purdue.edu

Rhonda Phillips, rphillips@purdue.edu

Mung Chiang, chiang@purdue.edu

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