DRI’s Fenstermaker named Project Director for Nevada’s NASA EPSCoR and Space Grant Programs

New research and S.T.E.M. opportunities to connect NSHE researchers with college and K-12 students 

LAS VEGAS - Dr. Lynn Fenstermaker has been named Project Director for Nevada’s NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Space Grant Programs. Fenstermaker, an associate research professor at Nevada’s Desert Research Institute has more than 20 years of experience studying Nevada’s changing climate and diverse ecosystems. 

She has served as a director for several NSF and NASA EPSCoR projects, including three significant NSHE climate change experiments; the Nevada Desert FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) Facility, the Mojave Global Change Facility, and the NV Climate-Ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN). She is also a Co-Principal Investigator on a joint-project addressing climate change adaptation strategies for the Mojave Region with a focus on operations at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center near Lancaster , California. 

“It’s an honor to have been selected as the Director of these two great NASA programs and to help enhance research infrastructure and STEM education within the State,” said Fenstermaker. “Even though I was just appointed, we’ve already started on the selection of a pre-proposal for the next NASA EPSCoR funding round and have begun efforts on a new Space Grant proposal.  I’m particularly excited about growing our STEM education opportunities at all levels by building upon successful NSHE projects such as UNR’s Balloon Sat and DRI’s GreenPower programs; the GreenPower program is currently interacting with over 200 schools across Nevada.” 

Established in 1987 by Congress, the NASA Space GrantProgram has created a powerful network of state consortia over its 25 year history.  The goal of the Space Grant Program is to “contribute to the nation’s science enterprise by funding education, research, and public service projects through a national network of university-based Space Grant consortium.”  

The program supports NASA’s national mission to develop a strong S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) education base through the funding of research and higher education programs, and by supporting students through scholarships, fellowships and internships, and by partnering with industry and local government. The NASA EPSCoR program was authorized in 1993 and the goal is to improve research infrastructure in areas of strategic importance to the NASA mission and goals that will help EPSCoR states develop long-term, nationally competitive capabilities. 

Fenstermaker – who also serves as DRI’s liaison for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) activities with Nevada-based UAS business interests and government entities – has worked with a colleague at University of Nevada, Las Vegas to develop and operate a Class I UAS platform that has been used to acquire multispectral and color images of research plots to assess climate change treatment effects and basic plant cover information. 

“The NASA Aerospace Research and Career Development (ARCD) Program Office in the NASA Office of Education is very excited to have Dr. Fenstermaker join our team as the Nevada Director of the two programs, NASA EPSCoR and NASA Space Grant. Her experience and credentials in education, scientific research and development, and managerial skills uniquely qualify her to lead the Nevada programs in the future!” said Dr. Warfield Teague, Senior Program Associate for ARCD at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. 

Fenstermaker adds to a distinguished list of NSHE research faculty who have helped lead the NASA EPSCoR and Space Grant Programs since its inception. DRI’s Dr. Jim Taranik was the first Nevada Space Grant Director and Dr. Chris Fritsen (DRI) was the project director for the past several years. Most recently Dr. Stephen Lepp, a Physics and Astronomy professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas served as the program’s interim director. 

All eight of Nevada’s academic institutions are part of the Nevada NASA EPSCoR and Space Grant Programs -  the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Nevada State College (NSC) in Henderson, Western Nevada College (WNC) in Carson City, Great Basin College (GBC) in Elko, Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) in Reno, the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) in Las Vegas, and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) with locations in Las Vegas and Reno. 

For more information on Nevada’s NASA EPSCoR and Space Grant Program please visit http://epscorspo.nevada.edu/nasa/ and  www.nvspacegrant.org

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