Petras Awarded Astronaut Scholarship

Mitchell Petras posing with project board.BATON ROUGE – Robert “Mitchell” Petras, a petroleum engineering major from Augusta, Ga., was one of 50 students nationwide recently selected as an Astronaut Scholar by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Petras, who is also a member of the LSU Swimming & Diving team, is the first petroleum engineering major in the history of the scholarship to receive the honor, which dates back to 1986.

As part of the scholarship, Petras will receive:

  • Up to $10,000 award
  • Expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in August for the Innovators Gala, where he will receive his award
  • Mentoring for one year by scholar alumni, C-suite executive or astronaut
  • Opportunity to participate in the professional development program sponsored by RBC
  • Opportunity to participate in ASF events
  • Membership in the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society

The Astronaut Scholarship is awarded to students in their junior and senior year of college studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics with the intent to pursue research or advance their field upon completion of their final degree.

“Receiving an award such as this one has been such an honor, and I believe it’s truly a testament to the dedication of my research supervisors Dr. (Ipsita) Gupta and Dr. (Puspa) Adhikari, who worked to put me in a position to be a competitive candidate for this scholarship, as well as the College of Engineering and the university,” Petras said. “I also want to thank my swim coaches for being supportive and flexible with the juggling of my athletics and research this semester.”

Petras’ research—which is conducted alongside Gupta, assistant professor in the Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, and Adhikari, a research associate—is focused on the mass spectrometry of live well fluids. The work is sponsored by Halliburton and its impact is on characterizing reservoir fluids on site, on the rig, and in real time.

This summer, Petras will work for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation as an intern in its Midland, Texas, office.

About the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

The ASF was founded more than 30 years ago by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts to help the United States retain its global position in technology and innovation by supporting the best and brightest scholars in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while commemorating the legacy of America’s pioneering astronauts.


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Contact: Joshua Duplechain

Director of Communications