Amelia Earhart Fellowship

The Amelia Earhart Fellowship was established in 1938 in honor of famed pilot and Zontian, Amelia Earhart. The US$10,000 Fellowship is awarded annually to up to 35 women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering and space sciences. It may be used at any university or college offering accredited post-graduate courses and degrees in these fields. 

Since the program’s inception in 1938, Zonta has awarded 1,674 Amelia Earhart Fellowships, totaling more than US$11 million, to 1,245 women from 75 countries. Fellows have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, even Secretary of the U.S. Air Force.

Emileigh Shoemaker is a 2022 recipient of an Amelia Earhart Fellowship. Emileigh is a fifth-year Ph.D. student being advised by Dr. Lynn Carter. Her research focuses on investigating the subsurface of volcanic environments on Mars and Earth using orbital and ground penetrating radar (GPR) systems. Eruptive products like lava flows from effusive volcanic activity or ash and pumice from explosive activity provide a glimpse into the evolution of the interior of a planet. On Mars, volcanic activity is primarily effusive—resulting in shield-like volcanic edifices and extensive lava flows similar to those seen in Hawaii. Explosive activity is less common; however, there is evidence on the surface that these types of eruptions have taken place in the past. Emileigh uses the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument currently orbiting Mars to investigate the subsurface and the stratigraphy of the largest volcanic province on the planet known as Tharsis. This region has been volcanically active for most of Mars’ history which makes it an excellent site to study the evolution of the planet over time. SHARAD has assisted Emileigh in making measurements of the thickness of lava flows and ash deposits there. Emileigh has taken part in several NASA field expeditions to the Icelandic Highlands, where she mapped ice buried by ash and pumice from two eruptions of the Askja Volcano using GPR. This area was used to test operational methods to map subsurface ice using these handheld radar systems for future astronauts who will need to access this precious resource during missions on other terrestrial bodies like Mars and the Moon. During these expeditions, Emileigh is able speak to the general public and hopes these interactions will encourage other students to participate in planetary field geology and geophysics in the future.

Indujaa Ganesh has received an Amelia Earhart Fellowship for 2021. Indujaa is a fifth-year Ph.D. student at LPL working with Dr. Lynn Carter. Indujaa’s research focuses on studies of explosive (pyroclastic) volcanic eruptions and how they alter the surfaces of Earth, Mars, and Venus. Explosive eruptions are often linked to excess volatiles like water in a planet’s interior; hence investigating relevant processes and landforms is important for understanding a planet’s interior volatile inventory and volcanic history. Indujaa’s studies combine radar remote sensing techniques and numerical modeling of physical processes related to volcanology. She uses different types of radar data—from sounding radars, polarimetric imaging radars, and microwave radiometers—to characterize near subsurface volcanic stratigraphy on Mars and Venus. Indujaa’s work also involves theoretical models of the pyroclastic flows and other types of mass transport processes. She is interested in exploring how the differences in gravity, topography, and atmospheric conditions between different planetary bodies result in differences in flow dynamics and final deposit morphology. Indujaa has also been involved with various outreach activities, ranging from representing LPL at events like UArizona Connect2STEM and Spacefest to leading activities for middle school students who visit LPL.

Joana Voigt is a 2020 recipient of the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International. Joana's dissertation research links volcanic eruption products to their controlling mechanisms in planetary interiors and utilizes unmanned aerial systems in planetary analog environments to develop how similar airborne vehicles can help to develop the frontier of Mars exploration. Throughout the solar system, volcanism is among the dominant processes that form and modify terrestrial landforms and atmospheres; it is an expression of the thermal evolution of planetary bodies, and is a critical factor for determining a planet’s habitability. In the future, Joana intends to test robotic technologies for exploring volcanic terrains on the Moon and to build on the Mars Helicopter technology flown with Mars 2020. This will enable new directions in aviation and aerospace exploration in the next phase of her career. Joana participates in public outreach activities related to planetary sciences.