USC student receives Astronaut scholarship
Posted October 4, 2011 at 12:05 am in News
Though her graduating class voted her most likely to blow up a lab at her international high school in Geneva, Switzerland, Simca Bouma has managed to keep the fire in the lab under control. Her, however, proverbial fire for science has earned her a special honor.
Bouma, a senior majoring in mathematics and physics, is the first USC student to receive a scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Jerry Carr, a U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame inductee and Skylab astronaut who received a bachelorâs degree in mechanical engineering from USC in 1954, presented the $10,000 check to Bouma on Monday in Taper Hall.
Though the award was presented Monday, Bouma learned she was to receive the award last June.
âI was pretty astonished,â Bouma said. âIt felt like I had done something; I thought my mom would be proud.â
Twenty-two USC students were nominated by the science, mathematics and engineering departments for the award. Nominees did not compete for the scholarships with students from other schools; every university that participated was guaranteed a winner.
This year 25 universities participated in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
âJerry Carr nominated us for inclusion this year,â Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs Gene Bickers said. âAnd we thank Jerry for bringing this scholarship opportunity to USC students.â
Not only is Bouma the first USC student ever to be selected for an Astronaut Scholarship, but she has received the largest merit-based monetary award that is given by the foundation to science and engineering undergraduate students in the United States.
âThe goal of the foundation is to advance science and scientific progress in the United States and I guess they read that my goals coincided very well with theirs,â Bouma said.
Bouma has been involved in research for years.
After high school, she worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology observing properties of carbon nanotubes. The summer after her freshman year, Bouma returned to Switzerland, where she worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. She wrote, a computer program for the organizations accelerator. During a different summer, she worked in the electro-magnetic division of NIST.
Currently, Bouma is a Supplemental Instruction leader for Calculus II.
âI am helping first and second year students in the 100 level class,â Bouma said. âI make worksheets based on lecture material and answer their questions.â
Bouma ultimately wants to pursue a doctorate in theoretical physics once she earns her undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics.
At the award ceremony, students and the public had the opportunity to hear Carr share his experiences as an astronaut after he presented the check to Bouma.
Carr was one of the 19 astronauts chosen by NASA to enter its program in April 1966, and since then he has made three space walks and circled the globe in orbit 214 times. He said Boumaâs leadership ultimately led her to become USCâs first Astronaut Scholar.
âShe is a prime example of everything an Astronaut Scholar is supposed to be: intelligent, [persevering] and destined for greatness,â Carr said in a press release.