2021 Scholarships

Following a competitive process with many high-quality applicants, the Interstellar Research Group has chosen three students as the recipients of our 2021 scholarships. With the support of Baen Books (who sponsor the Tim Bolgeo Memorial Scholarship), Rob and Ruann Hampson, and Jay and Beth Roye, we are awarding these deserving students one graduate scholarship ($2500) and two undergraduate scholarships ($2500 each). These scholarships were created to encourage the next generation to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields that support the research needed to get humanity to the stars.

Our winners are:

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David Webb, our graduate-level winner, and winner of the Tim Bolgeo Memorial Scholarship, has held senior positions at various social and environmental impact funds, many focused on frontier and emerging markets. He has led investments across Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia for funds focused on the rising middle class, financial inclusion, ocean conservation, reforestation and climate change.

David is pursuing his Master’s in Climate and Society at Columbia University. He received an A.B. in Economics and Government with specialization in International Relations from Dartmouth College, and is a CFA Charterholder. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the journal, Capitalism & Society, at the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University. His winning essay can be read here.

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Our first undergraduate winner, Morgan Barkhurst, is a freshman college student who studies solar sails in her spare time. She is pursuing a degree in Materials Engineering at the University of Central Florida. She is a space enthusiast who is fascinated by the science, math, and mystery of the universe. She is a two-time intern with NASA Marshall and has published with AIAA on her personal research project. She worked to repair Florida Gulf Coast University’s Egan Observatory. Her recent work includes a trade study for a Lunar Safe Haven structure with NASA Langley and Marshall. She enjoys dancing like no one is watching as a creative release and is driven by her passion to learn new things and work collaboratively on challenging problems. Her winning essay can be read here.

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When Colin Warn, our second undergraduate winner, made the switch from a career in music to re-enroll in college, it was for one reason: To advance the bleeding edge of interstellar propulsion, and to do so with an enthusiastic team of people.
Whether it was developing his college’s first satellite to space in a university that doesn’t have an aerospace department, or creating a Hall Effect Thruster in a university that doesn’t even have a plasma physics department, he and his Washington State University classmates have never let a lack of resources stop them from making their space-fairing dreams a reality.
When he’s not writing whitepapers on topics such as interstellar braking methods, or pursuing summer research topics such as machine vision-powered tracking of microrobots, you can find Colin teaching music production, or training mixed martial arts at a nearby gym. His winning essay can be read here.

The $2,500 scholarships this year included the Tim Bolgeo Memorial Scholarship, supported by Baen Books, and our other sponsors Rob and Ru Ann Hampson, and Jay and Beth Roye. The scholarships are merit-based, and require all applicants to complete an essay with their application forms. The deadline for all applications was May 15, 2021.

The Interstellar Research Group “was created to foster and assist the study, research and experimentation necessary to make human interstellar travel a reality, with untold benefits to life on Earth,” said IRG President Emeritus John Preston. “We can imagine no better way to demonstrate that goal than the creation of these scholarships, helping new generations of thinkers, builders and explorers to set their sights on the stars.”

Applicants for the undergraduate scholarships must be high school seniors in the southeast United States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Virginia) who plan to pursue their first undergraduate degree in a STEM related field at any accredited, four-year American college or university. Applicants for the graduate scholarship must be full-time college or university students majoring in a STEM related field, and seeking a graduate degree in science from an accredited college or university in the United States.

NOTE: Applications for the 2021 Scholarships have now closed. Application Materials are provided for reference information only.


We thank all of the students who apply for one of these scholarships. Please consider following IRG as we help make interstellar missions possible for a future generation to go to the stars!

Connect with IRG organizers and participants via social media:

Web: https://irg.space

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InterstellarResearchGroup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/irg_space

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/interstellarresearchgroup