LSU Physics Students Receive Louisiana Space Grant Research Awards

Megan Chesal
Megan Chesal

LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy graduate student Megan Chesal and undergraduate Haley Pellegrin have been granted Louisiana Space Grant student research awards.

Under the direction of Assistant Professor Jeffery Chancellor, both students will receive a monetary stipend for research work conducted in Chancellor’s lab. In addition to hands-on technical experience, these students will be offered other professional development opportunities, like presenting their work at professional meetings while also working towards their LSU degree.

The fundamental premise underlying Louisiana Space Grant Consortium (LaSPACE) programming is involvement in research at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and faculty) that aligns with NASA research priorities and mission goals, and then leveraging that infrastructure to increase NASA-relevant science literacy around the state. Building transdisciplinary teams that perform research and provide educational opportunities is the key to developing the 21st century workforce desired by both NASA and the State of Louisiana.

An LSU 2018 BS physics alumna, Megan Chesal is currently a third-year medical physics graduate student. Her research with Dr. Chancellor involves a physiological scalable analog that can simulate the non-homogenous space radiation environment in a laboratory setting. The 2020-2021 LaSPACE Graduate Student Research Assistance (GSRA) award will augment Chesal’s student stipend, help to defray dissertation related research expenses, and promote student research presentations at national meetings.

Haley Pellegrin
Haley Pellegrin

“This research is highly relevant to the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD),” said Chancellor. “Megan has been working in my research laboratory and she intends to pursue a career in aeronautics.”

Receiving a 2020-2021 LaSPACE Undergraduate Research Assistantship (LURA) award, Haley Pellegrin is a senior undergraduate working in Dr. Chancellor’s SpaRTAN Physics laboratory, conducting research on the development of an AI based deep generative design framework and topology optimization for spacecraft radiation shielding.

“This lab’s work is highly relevant to NASA HEOMD,” said Chancellor. “The overall goals of the lab will help develop Haley’s technical, scientific, and professional development skills. Although Haley is relatively new to space science applications of medical physics, this project could impact her career path.”


Colleen Fava, Assistant Director
Louisiana Space Grant & NASA EPSCoR Programs

 Mimi LaValle
LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy