UB student receives prestigious space research scholarship

Kristina Monakhova, a UB junior studying electrical engineering, has received the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award from the Universities Space Research Association.

By Ryan McCarthy

Release Date: October 22, 2014

Kristina Monakhova

“I study electrical engineering because of its diversity and breadth — I just love learning and understanding what makes everything work around us.”
Kristina Monakhova, electrical engineering student
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Kristina Monakhova, a junior electrical engineering major at the University at Buffalo, has another accomplishment to add to her list.

She was awarded the John R. Sevier Memorial Scholarship Award, which annually recognizes two students nationwide who are interested in a science or engineering career, with an emphasis on space research or space science education.

The honor, which includes a $2,000 prize, was one of four scholarships awarded Oct. 6 by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), an independent, nonprofit research corporation that works to advance space science and technology.

To be considered for USRA scholarships, an applicant must be a full-time undergraduate student within two years of earning a bachelor of science degree in an engineering or science field at an accredited four-year college or university.

“Ms. Monakhova’s depth and breadth of research interests, her friendly collegial nature, her ability to plan and execute research, and organize and deliver presentations all are truly outstanding,” said John Crassidis, PhD, CUBRC Professor in Space Situational Awareness.

Crassidis, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB, is supervising Monakhova and other students who are working on LANSAT (Lightcurve Analyzing Nanosatellite), a U.S. Air Force-funded project designed to track space debris that orbits the Earth threatening satellites and future space missions.

“For this, I am leading a team of students to design the attitude determination and control subsystem for the satellite,” said Monakhova, a native of Liverpool, N.Y. “The project is extremely multi-disciplinary, hands-on and is giving me the chance to launch and test my work in space in 2017.”

The project (her favorite) is one of many she has worked on since arriving at UB with a full-ride Presidential Scholarship — an honor presented to the top 24 students admitted to the university each year.

Monakhova, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is working with four students to develop a radar system for unmanned aerial vehicles. The project is funded by the Center for Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (CURCA) under the supervision of Manoranjan Majji, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB.

Outside of UB, Monakhova worked in the Planetary Robotics Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University last summer. Along with a team of students and professionals, she designed a lunar rover to compete in the Google Lunar X-Prize.

She also graduated from NASA's Robotics Academy at the Marshall Space Flight Center and placed first at the NASA Intern Poster Expo, other engineering events and the UB Elevator Pitch Competition.

Monakhova, who plans to earn a PhD before joining the space and defense industry, said the field of electrical engineering continues to amaze her.

“I study electrical engineering because of its diversity and breadth — I just love learning and understanding what makes everything work around us,” she said.



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