Miami University
4:06 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Miami student earns astronaut scholarship

Dirk Auman in the lab; the image on the monitor shows an Arabidopsis plant cell undergoing meiosis, a specialized cell division that produces gamete (sperm and ovules).
Credit Scott Kissell / Miami University

A Miami University student is being rewarded for having his head in the clouds.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is awarding Senior Dirk Auman  a $10,000 scholarship. He's one of just 28 students nationwide to receive the honor. You have to be nominated by a professor and meet a host of criteria to qualify.

Auman is double-majoring in biochemistry and engineering physics with a minor in computer science.

Miami University writes:

Auman has been conducting independent study research since his first semester at Miami with Chris Makaroff, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

He is involved with Makaroff’s research on the isolation and characterization of genes required for meiosis in the plant Arabidopsis (member of the mustard family).

“Dirk is the type of student that faculty love to have in lab,” Makaroff said. “He is very bright, hard working, very independent and an excellent experimentalist.”

The Astronaut Scholarship tops Auman’s list of honors received while at Miami, which include being named a 2012 Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention and a 2012-2013 Beckman Scholar, with a scholarship valued at $19,300.

  “At Miami, faculty members strive to be outstanding teacher-scholars. Dirk is an excellent example of a student-scholar,” said Michael Crowder, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “He demonstrate(s) outstanding ownership of his project. He (understands) the rationale behind his experiments and can explain how his research fits with the "bigger picture."

“Dirk has plans to go to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry and have a career in research. I have no doubt that he will be successful in this regard,” Makaroff said. “He has the intelligence, skills and work ethic to be a successful independent scientist.”

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was created in 1984 by six members of the original Mercury astronauts.