Racing for the stars

Parker Roberts

HIGH-FLYING ASPIRATIONS: Parker Roberts assisted in the development of a powerful thruster rocket as a Goldwater Scholar working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His goal after Berry is to pursue a Ph.D. in plasma physics.

In a summer highlighted by commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing – and the contributions Berry graduates made to that herculean achievement – it’s fitting that current Berry students have added their own unique contributions to the college’s NASA legacy.

Ann Fite WhitakerSenior physics and math major Parker Roberts spent his summer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on a powerful thruster rocket as Berry’s second Goldwater Scholar in as many years. Roberts was one of fewer than 500 students nationally to earn the nation’s preeminent undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

At the same time, environmental science major Amanda Tomlinson was participating in the NASA DEVELOP National Program, working with a team of individuals at Marshall Space Flight Center to monitor drought in Kenya using NASA Earth Observations. As part of the paid internship opportunity, the Berry senior was chosen to present her team’s work at the annual Earth Science Application Showcase at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Both students follow in the footsteps of such notable alumni as Ann Fite Whitaker (61C), a past Berry magazine cover subject (right) and 1978 recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award whose groundbreaking role in the space program was recounted this summer in commemorative stories by the Rome News-Tribune and al.com. Read more about the impressive group of alumni – many of them students of legendary Berry faculty member Dr. Lawrence E. McAllister – who helped propel astronauts to the moon in this Berry magazine retrospective originally published in 2010.

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