New Zealand Space Scholarship recipients announced

Published: 15 March 2023

Recipients of the 2023 New Zealand Space Scholarship and Alexander J. Willoughby Fellowship, which support internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), were announced in a ceremony at Parliament today.

Michaela Dobson of the University of Auckland, Leah Albrow of the University of Canterbury, and Jack Naish, Celine Jane and Daniel Wrench of Victoria University of Wellington will all travel to JPL in Pasadena, California in an exciting first for Kiwi students.

The interns were selected from a pool of applicants studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at post-graduate level.

Each will spend between 10 and 16 weeks at NASA’s JPL, with the first students due to begin their internships towards the end of March. They will each work alongside a NASA mentor on projects including the search for ancient microbial life on Mars, developing intelligent control systems for a snake-like exploration robot and fixing software vulnerabilities on critical spacecraft.

The New Zealand Space Scholarship programme is funded by government and administered by the New Zealand Space Agency, part of MBIE. The Alexander J. Willoughby Fellowship, awarded to Daniel Wrench, is privately funded.

This is the largest cohort of JPL interns and the first to undertake in-person internships, following two years of online internships.

The announcement coincides with the visit of NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy who are touring New Zealand and meeting with the New Zealand Space Agency.

See the list of interns and read more about their projects