ARCS Foundation Promotes Graduate Student Research

Three U.VA. students win $15,000 scholarship.

By Melissa Maki
ARCS scholarship winners

From left to right: Antonia Schierling (ARCS), Mark Hanson, David Nidever, Roseanne Ford, Thomas Bliss, and Antoinette Delaney (ARCS)
Photo by Thomas Grimes

Three University of Virginia graduate students will be able to fully concentrate on their research rather than worry about their finances and teaching responsibilities this year, thanks to funding from the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation. 

Thomas K. Bliss, mechanical and aerospace engineering; Mark A. Hanson, electrical engineering; and David L. Nidever, astronomy will each receive $15,000 this year from the ARCS Foundation—a national women’s organization that provides scholarships to academically outstanding students.  ARCS was founded in 1958, shortly after the launch of Sputnik, and focuses its efforts on supporting students in the sciences, medicine, and engineering with the goal of “contributing to the worldwide advancement of science and technology.” 

Nidever has been receiving the ARCS scholarship for three years now.  He is appreciative of the ARCS financial support because it has allowed him to devote his time to research, rather than a teaching assistantship.  Nidever studies the formation and evolution of galaxies in our local galactic neighborhood through the use of optical and radio telescopes, often traveling to Chile for his observations.

Hanson’s scholarship will allow him to focus on creating a system of networked body sensors to quantitatively study human movement in a noninvasive, inexpensive and continuous manner.  He notes that there are a host of technical challenges that he intends to try to solve through engineering. 

“Ultimately, the success of our research will be determined by the impact that it has in the lives of those with movement disorder,” says Hanson.  “The ARCS scholarship is giving me an opportunity to work towards that success.”

Bliss will use the ARCS funding to pursue mechanical engineering research on morphing structures and their application in biomimetic underwater propulsion—that is, determining a way for human-made devices to mimic the efficiency and control of a manta ray’s movements. 

“The reward is a great honor,” says Bliss.  “It is refreshing and encouraging to see people, outside of the engineering and science community, who are excited about research at the nation’s universities and are dedicated to the advancement of science in the U.S.”

Roseanne Ford, associate vice president for research and graduate studies, will represent U.Va. at a ceremony honoring the ARCS fellows on Oct. 11, 2007 in Washington, D.C.

“The ARCS Foundation has been a steadfast supporter of science and engineering education,” says Ford.  “Its support for talented young scholars has been invaluable to the University and the nation.”