Astronaut scholarship helps senior reach for the stars
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 00:08
Miami University senior Dirk Auman was rewarded a $10,000 Astronaut Scholarship by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) for this academic year.
Space shuttle astronaut Charles Precourt will present the scholarship to Auman 7 p.m., Wednesday Aug. 28, in Hall Auditorium. Precourt will also share his experiences from his 15 years in the space program at the event, which will be open to the public.
Auman is one of 28 students nationwide to receive this scholarship. According to the foundation’s website, candidates must be nominated by faculty members and have intentions to engage in research or advance their field after obtaining a final degree.
Auman does not intend to pursue a career in the aerospace industry, but it is a subject he enjoys learning about as much as possible.
“Not necessarily from the career side, but I definitely have a personal interest [in aerospace engineering],” Auman said. “It’s partly the reason why I picked up physics.”
Auman is a biochemistry and engineering physics double-major and a computer science minor.
He began independent study research his first semester at Miami, and he is also a Beckman Scholar conducting research on protein activity in Arabidopsis Thaliana with Dr. Christopher Makaroff, associate dean of the college of arts and science and professor of biochemistry and chemistry.
“Dirk is one of these exceptional people,” Makaroff said. “He’s really book-smart, but he’s also very good technically and a critical thinker.”
After graduation, Auman intends to pursue a Doctoral degree in biochemistry or biophysics. Auman said he wants to apply protein research to improve treatments and discover mechanisms of disease
Kuntal De, a graduate student who works with Auman on Dr. Makaroff’s research, said he is confident Auman will succeed in his career ambitions.
“He really is a bright candidate and hard-working,” De said. “He thinks before doing any experiments.”
The Astronaut Scholarship is one of many awards and recognitions Auman has received while studying at Miami. He received a Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention in 2012, as well as the Beckman Scholar Award that amounted to $19,300.
Auman also actively participates in many organizations on campus, including the Miami Chemical Society and Alpha Lambda Delta.
Makaroff said Auman has presented his work twice at the American Chemical Society’s national meetings. Markaroff also said he presented his work at the Beckman Scholar and Young Investigator Symposium in Irvine, California this past July.