News Releases

Lander joins statewide space grant group

June 05, 2008
Research being performed this summer at Lander University could eventually make it easier for professional astronomers -- and backyard stargazers -- to peer out into the universe. 
 
The research, focusing on using plastic to craft lighter, less expensive telescope mirrors, is being funded by a grant from the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium (SCSGC). Lander is one of the newest members of the group, which is comprised of more than a dozen educational institutions across the state, including the College of Charleston, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina.
 
Formed in 1991, the consortium aims to strengthen the state's aerospace-related research infrastructure by promoting exploration, education and public service related to the NASA mission, according to the SCSGC Web site. Consortium members are eligible to compete for NASA- and SCSGC-funded research grants and programs, faculty and staff development and training, and travel to NASA centers.
 
"By joining the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium, Lander can establish strong ties with NASA and other consortium members," said Dr. Lisa Brodhacker, assistant professor of organic chemistry and space grant campus director at Lander. "We'll have opportunities for our faculty and students to participate in space-related research and education."
 
Currently, the SCSGC is supporting more than $192,000 in research awards for faculty and more than $126,000 in student awards, Brodhacker said, adding that the funds are not limited to astronomy. 
 
"NASA is not just about the planets and stars. There are universities, educators and students researching in biological sciences, computer sciences and mathematics," she said. "There is money out there for research in a broad spectrum of fields, and we want to get more educators and students involved."
 
Though the university is still in its freshman year with the consortium, Lander senior chemistry major Ankoma Anderson of Greenwood has already been approved for a $5,000 grant to study the production and use of plastic telescope mirrors - a technique that could replace glass mirrors and make telescopes lighter, more powerful and more affordable. Brodhacker, who will be working with Anderson on the research throughout the summer, said the study is an extension of her own research while in graduate school at USC.
 
"We're delighted that Ankoma received Lander's first grant from the consortium," Brodhacker said. "He is very dedicated to this project, and the research he'll be doing this summer could one day be used at NASA and in laboratories around the world."
 
For information about SCSGC grant opportunities, contact Dr. Lisa Brodhacker at lbrodhacker@lander.edu or visit www.lander.edu.