USD Student embarks on dream NASA Internship!

Posted on: July 8, 2024   |   Categories: Announcements, News & Updates
USD Student as NASA Intern

Article and picture credit: University of South Dakota.

Rising University of South Dakota senior Maddie Rozmajzl landed a prestigious summer internship with NASA at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California’s Silicon Valley, an opportunity she describes as a dream come true.

“I am so grateful to be chosen for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see my progress by the end of the summer,” said Rozmajzl, a biomedical engineering major from Omaha, Nebraska. “I have dreamt to work for such a prestigious company as NASA, and I have dreamt about being a part of a team who is known for achieving the impossible.”

During her 10-week internship, Rozmajzl is working in the Bioengineering & Instrumentation Lab, participating in projects connected to the Lunar Explorer Instrument for space biology Applications (LEIA) mission, which is set to launch in 2026. Her responsibilities include working on the biocompatibility of materials and an optical density probe for LEIA group support equipment.

“I have already met many faculty and other interns, and I am looking forward to continuing networking and gaining experience while learning from NASA professionals,” said Rozmajzl. “I am experiencing protocol writing, gaining presentation skills and engaging in communication with an interdisciplinary team. At the end of the internship, I will be giving a presentation of my work at the center.

“It has been a blast to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about the same things as I am, and I am super excited to see how much my knowledge and network grow by the end of the summer,” she continued.

Rozmajzl’s involvement at USD has been extensive and has prepared her for this opportunity. She has been a member of USD’s dance team for four years and Kappa Alpha Theta for three years. Rozmajzl also worked at the Academic and Career Planning Center and completed undergraduate research studying genetics of Drosophila, a type of fruit fly, under Omera Matoo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology.

Thanks to mentorship and guidance from Matoo, Rozmajzl felt confident in applying for this internship.

“As an interdisciplinary student, I reached out to Dr. Matoo to receive experience in a wet lab, and I even told her how working for NASA is my dream,” said Rozmajzl. “Ever since then, she pushed me to achieve my dream by helping me apply for internships and funding, adding to my resume and discussing how my gene research can relate to NASA’s biology research.”

While pursuing her undergraduate research, Rozmajzl received support from the CURCS Mini-Grant Program. She also received a stipend from the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium to help make her internship possible.

“Research supplies can be expensive, so having that support from the CURCS Mini Grant was amazing,” said Rozmajzl. “Also, as I was applying to NASA internships, I needed funding to be able to support myself at the NASA center. Without the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium, I wouldn’t be able to take this opportunity at Ames Research Center and achieve my dream goal.”

Rozmajzl will graduate with her biomedical engineering degree in December. She plans to pursue her master’s and Ph.D. degrees and continue working for NASA.

“I remember watching the first senior class graduate with a biomedical engineering degree at USD my freshman year,” said Rozmajzl. “I’m so proud to see how far the Department of Biomedical Engineering has grown in the past four years, and I’m even more proud of myself for applying to an internship as prestigious as NASA. It’s been amazing to see how much we have been able to accomplish, even in a town as little as Vermillion, South Dakota.

“I would not have this opportunity without the help of the faculty and staff at USD,” she continued. “They pushed me to develop my engineering and biology skills and to apply them to the goals I dreamed of. I will forever be grateful for my time at USD and for all the faculty, staff and peers that have led me to where I am.”

About Undergraduate Research

At USD, undergraduate students are encouraged to dive into research and creative scholarship opportunities. By cultivating curiosity and collaborating with esteemed faculty, students develop transferrable skills and make groundbreaking discoveries. With funding opportunities through programs like the UDiscover Summer Scholar Program and the CURCS Mini-Grant Program, students can dream big and pursue their interests. Learn more about how to get involved in undergraduate research.