Honors Program 2020 Student Highlight: Grant Johnson

Grant Johnson is one of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s most talented undergraduates. He is in the Honors Program and has a dual major in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Computational Mathematics, along with a minor in Applied Mathematics. He received the Embry-Riddle Honors Outstanding Research Scholar Award in 2019. In addition to being a Diamond Eagle Scholar since 2016, Grant has won multiple nationally competitive awards in recognition of his research and research potential. 

Grant is interested in developing fusion as a source of energy, which presents major technical challenges. One of these is managing the heat flux to the surface, which is the specific focus of his research. As a sophomore, he applied and was selected for a Science Undergraduate Laboratory internship (SULI) through the Department of Energy where he gained research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). He completed two SULI internships in the spring and summer of 2018. Grant’s participation in the SULI program allowed him to delve more deeply into the study of plasma surface interactions, develop an analytical model of the transitioning sheath between different sheath regimes, and create a new four-dimensional (2D-2V) plasma simulation code. Notably, though Grant’s SULI internships required him to take a semester away from his coursework at ERAU, he has taken a course overload to graduate on time and maintained a 4.0 cumulative GPA. 

After the completion of his two SULI internships, Grant was hired by LLNL to continue doing plasma physics research focusing on the effects of surface electron emission and collisions on the plasma sheath. He served as a student research mentor at LLNL in 2019. His research with Dr. Campanell at LLNL led to two poster presentations at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics meetings, where Grant received an Outstanding Poster Award in 2019. It also led to two publications co-authored with Dr. Campanell in Plasma Physics Reports and Physical Review Letters in 2019. Grant and Dr. Campanell were awarded competitive machine time to test their theories at the UCLA Basic Plasma Science Facility. 

In 2019 and 2020, Grant received multiple awards in recognition of his intellectual and scientific accomplishments and potential. He received the Directorate Award from LLNL in 2019. That spring, he was selected as a Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship Program, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scientific scholarships, supports students who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders in the U.S. In fall 2019, Grant worked with ERAU’s Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships to apply for graduate school and external fellowships to support his doctoral studies in plasma physics. He was awarded both the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship, which provides four years of financial support with a $38,000 annual stipend, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which provides a three years of financial support with a $34,000 annual stipend. Due to award stipulations, Grant was unable to accept both fellowships and declined the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. He will be starting his doctoral degree at Princeton University this fall.

Courtney Thurston Named Goldwater Scholar

Courtney Thurston, an Honors Program student double majoring in Computer Science and Computational Mathematics, was named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar. 

Courtney is a former high school valedictorian, Google CodeU scholar, and a 3x Microsoft intern in software engineering. On campus, she is an Undergraduate Researcher in the ASSURE Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence, the student lead at the Women's Engineering Institute, the Teaching Assistant for SE300 Software Engineering Practices, a tutor in the College of Business lab, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa & Upsilon Pi Epsilon. She was also recently named a National Honorable Mention for the NCWIT Collegiate Award.

Austin Ogle Awarded Boren Scholarship for 2017-2018 Academic Year

Austin Ogle has been awarded a Boren scholarship to study in Kyrgyzstan during the 2017-18 academic year. Austin is an Honors Program student majoring in Engineering Physics and Computational Mathematics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He studied Russian at the School of Russian and Asian Studies in Bishkek. This experience built on a previous State Department Scholarship titled National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). Through this scholarship opportunity he studied in Chisinau, Moldova and Narva, Estonia for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Miles Bengtson Becomes 2017-2021 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow

Honors Program graduate Miles Bengtson was named a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow for 2017-2021. His other accomplishments and awards include Air Force Research Laboratory Space Scholar, International Space University Space Studies Program Class Speaker, Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, among many, many others. He was also named the 2016 ERAU Honors Program Outstanding Graduate and ERAU Engineering Physics Outstanding Graduate.


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