The waters of Monterey Bay appeared a deep blue from two miles up during a 2010 Student Airborne Research Program flight by NASA's DC-8 flying science laboratory. ©June 29, 2010, Jane Peterson/NSERC. Used here with permission.

It can be said that many students are reaching for the stars as they pursue their degrees, but in the case of CSI Junior Daniel Kurzweil, that phrase is just a little more apropos.

Daniel is one of only 30 students selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in its Student Airborne Research Program (SARP). The six-week summer program allows students to acquire hands-on research experience in all aspects of a scientific campaign using NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory.

Daniel Kurzweil

Daniel Kurzweil

“I am very happy to be offered this once in a lifetime opportunity,” commented Daniel. “I cannot thank my professors enough for their mentorship and guidance, especially Dr. Alexander for pushing me to apply for this program.”

Majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Education, Daniel is a leader in the Teacher Education Honors Academy at CSI. As an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, he is looking forward to performing hands-on fieldwork in the three general research areas: atmospheric chemistry, evapotranspiration from agricultural crops in California, and ocean biology along the California coast.

“The DC-8 is a major NASA resource for studying Earth system processes, calibration/validation of space-borne observations, and prototyping instruments for possible satellite missions,” said DC-8 Project Manager Frank Cutler. “Participants will assist in the operation of instruments onboard the DC-8 to sample atmospheric chemicals, and to image land and water surfaces in multiple spectral bands.” SARP is managed by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center.”

According to Daniel, his interests are well-suited to the program.

“I was taking a lot of Geology courses just for fun,” he recalls. “My Geology professors, Dr. Jane Alexander and Dr. Alan Benimoff, suggested that I pursue an Earth Science teaching certification, in addition to the Math certification.”

“Daniel is one of the most dedicated, brightest and outstanding students that I have ever met,” commented Dr. Benimoff.  Benimoff, whose 2004 mineral discovery is part of the collections of the New York State Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, added that “during the spring 2010 semester he enrolled in my graduate Soils and Geohydrology course. As a term project he built a stream table to investigate the flow of meandering streams, and earned a grade of A. He did all this while taking 21 other credits.”

Once Daniel completes his degree at CSI, he hopes to teach Math and Earth Science at a New York City high school.

The summer program, now in its third year, will take place in Southern California at the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale.