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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Astronaut foundation gives scholarship to ‘rock star’

Ernie Somoza
Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat Astronaut Fred Gregory visited the University of Arizona to give speech and $10,000 scholarship to UA student Cameron Upchurch. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation created by the Mercury 7 Astraunts have awarded 3.2 million dollars worth of scholarships since the foundation was created.

The UA’s first Astronaut Scholar received a check for $10,000 at a presentation on Wednesday evening.

Cameron Upchurch, a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology, received the scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation during the event in the Kuiper Space Sciences building. Upchurch was awarded the scholarship for his research in molecular and cellular biology, particularly concerning endocytosis, which is the process cells use to absorb nutrients.

“Basically he is a rock star,” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has given more than $3.2 million in scholarships since it started in 1984. The UA is among a small list of schools that are eligible to receive this scholarship award.

UA alumnus and astronaut Tom Jones recommended the UA participate in this scholarship program last year, said Julie Norwood, director of Donor Services. The seven members of the Mercury 7 space program started the foundation.

One of these seven, Col. Fred Gregory, presented and signed the check on behalf of the foundation at the event.  He said that this is the most prestigious award in the science world and gives a large monetary value with, “no strings attached.” The scholarship goes to undergraduate students entering their junior or senior year who demonstrate scientific prowess in the various fields of science, engineering or math.

However, the scholarship is not extended solely toward students majoring in aeronautics or space sciences.

“This scholarship is based on merit,” Ruiz said.

Upchurch thanked the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Col. Gregory and the adviser who nominated him as well as his department and his peers for helping him and supporting him.

Upchurch said that he hopes to be able to continue his research and that this scholarship was a huge honor to be nominated for. Upchurch said that he wants to go on to be a physician investigator.

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