Rochester Student Named Astronaut Scholar

Univ. Communications – Skylab astronaut and University of Rochester alumnus Ed Gibson ’59 will present Halley Orshan ’12 (known to the University community as Darcey Riley), a Rochester undergraduate, with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) during a public presentation and ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, in Hoyt Auditorium.

While there, Gibson will share his experiences of spending over 84 days living and working in space on the Skylab 4 mission, in addition to presenting the award. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Darcey is a clear leader in computer science, mathematics, and linguistics at the University of Rochester,” said Gibson. “She is a prime example of everything an Astronaut Scholar is supposed to be: intelligent, perseverant and destined for greatness. As a Yellowjacket, I am especially proud to have the opportunity to present this award to such a worthy UR student.”

Riley, who is the first Rochester student to be selected as an Astronaut Scholar, is a senior triple-majoring in computer science, mathematics, and linguistics. She is a teaching assistant and workshop leader at Rochester. Her goal is to attend graduate school for statistical natural language processing and then ultimately to pursue an academic career. Riley, who is a resident of Millington, N.J., uses her rare free time to write poetry and fiction as well as improve her photography skills.

“Darcey is very deserving of this honor,” said Steven Manly, a physics professor and the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, which promotes research programs, including the ASF scholarship, Research and Innovation Grants, the Barth-Crapsey Undergraduate Research Awards, and other opportunities. “But, Darcey is the first of who we hope will be many UR students to win this award through the years. Speaking personally and for the University, we are very excited to be part of this prestigious scholarship program.”

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. Last March, Rochester was selected to be one of the Foundation’s educational partners, allowing the University to nominate two students each year for one of the scholarships. Twenty-six of these prestigious awards were dispersed this year through the ASF to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. More than $3 million has been awarded in scholarships to date.

Gibson was selected by NASA in its first group of scientist-astronauts in June 1965. He orbited the Earth as the Science Pilot for 84 days during Skylab 4, the final manned flight of the Skylab space station. Gibson, Commander Gerald Carr and Command Module Pilot William Pogue were launched in their Apollo capsule on November 16, 1973. Gibson’s duties concentrated on pointing six camera telescopes at the sun, stars and comet Kohoutek, whose sweep around the sun at that time was a scientific bonus for the mission. Daily medical experiments took the most time, but Gibson was able to make three spacewalks, spending a total of 15 hours 17 minutes outside the lab. The crew circled the globe 1,214 times, traveled 34.5 million miles and collected 1,718 pounds of film, data and biomedical specimens for scientific study during their stay on Skylab. Gibson was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields. ASF has awarded over $3 million to deserving students nationwide. Today, more than 80 astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this effort. For more information about the ASF, call 321.455.7013 or log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org. For information about the Sept. 15 event, call Melissa Greco Lopes at 585.276.3693.