University of Waikato Masters student Rosemary Swears is off to the US for an internship at NASA.

She may not be precisely a rocket scientist, but she’s coming close to it. Rosemary is working on a project that will help improve the monitoring of astronauts health in space. She is one of four inaugural NASA interns, and the only woman. The programme involves a New Zealand Space Agency scholarship, and was created to allow New Zealand tertiary students to work collaboratively on research with a NASA mentor.

Rosemary will be carrying out her research with NASA’s Dr Jessica Koehne at the Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley. The project involves making and testing a sensor device that can be printed onto paper in situ and on demand, rather than being sent up from Earth when it's needed, or being forced to take a heavy clunky gadget into space. The device will be used to detect the biomarkers that enter the bloodstream during a cardiac event, to monitor astronauts' health.

Rosemary has travelled fairly extensively, but says she’s always wanted to go to America, because it is where a lot of culture comes from. NASA is the wow factor. “They’re slightly beyond cutting edge. Think about all the cool tech that came out of the space race. They’re still doing it but are just a little bit quieter about it. The Mars 2020 rover will be the first thing ever to be brought back from Mars. There are instruments on it that should be impossible.“

Her advice for would-be NASA interns is to be patient. Rosemary applied in September, and can only just talk about it now. She was, however, allowed to tell her immediate family. “My mother and father are both extremely proud.”

The opportunities Rosemary has had at the University of Waikato staff have been crucial in getting her to NASA.  They have included two Summer Research Scholarships - one with Professor Michael Mucalo, analyzing household ceramic plates for hazardous heavy metals, and one with Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris, studying the sugar composition of honey and the potential health benefits of some of those components, which is also the focus of her Masters thesis. She worked with Professor Bill Henderson on a review of solid rocket propellants, and she is currently working on a side-project with Dr Alista Fow,  designing and testing a series of new solid rocket propellants.

The internship runs from June through to August, and aims to  support the country’s high achieving students in space-related activities, as well as build capability in the country’s space economy.

Latest stories

Related stories

Jeremy Zolnai-Lucas

Nice work if you can get it

Young Londoner needs a job, walks into Waikato and becomes a research programmer.

University of Waikato partnership with Genomics Aotearoa

University of Waikato extends partnership with Genomics Aotearoa

Key leaders from the University of Waikato met with representatives from Genomics Aotearoa (GA) today…

Ethan Flintoft receiving Award from NZGS

Ethan’s our new poster boy

The research work of a first-year civil engineering student at Waikato University has earned him…

Shalini Guleria

You can 3D print anything, even cancer cells

University of Waikato Master of Science student Shalini Guleria has developed a new way to…

University of Waikato climbs international rankings

For the sixth year running, the University of Waikato has climbed up the QS World…

Fieldays kicks off

Fieldays 2019 opened today, and the University's stand includes a prototype asparagus harvester, designed to…

How New Zealand’s well-being budget delivers for the environment

Troy Baisden looks at whether the budget is transforming the economy and society towards environmental…

Claire and Taylor web2

Fighting biosecurity threats naturally

Two Waikato chemistry students will share the 2019 Fieldays scholarship, investigating marine algae and its…

Water clarity improvements detected in the Rotorua lakes

Satellites 700 kilometers above the Earth’s surface are helping to gauge the health of the…

Vic Arcus web

Battling cattle bloat

Why are some cows more susceptible than others to bloat? Scientists think a single protein…

Taking down the mastermind of bacteria

University of Waikato’s Dr Joanna Hicks is finding a new way to wipe out the…

NASA scholars have liftoff

Two University of Waikato students are off to the US for internships at NASA.