NASA funding and science education are topics of discussion
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District visited the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy March 18 for a roundtable discussion with faculty.

Among the topics of discussion were the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and the impact of NASA funding on the university and the state of Iowa. The UI currently participates in a variety of K-12 STEM activities—including HAWK EYES on Space, an outreach demonstration program held at Iowa schools—and UI researchers attracted more than $3.9 million in NASA funding during fiscal year 2013.

Loebsack also toured the laboratory of Randall McEntaffer, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. McEntaffer is one of 102 U.S. scientists and engineers named by President Barack Obama as recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, D.C., ceremony during 2014.

One of only five PECASE recipients honored by NASA, McEntaffer was recognized for his development of instruments for the next generation of space-based X-ray spectrometers used in astronomical research. McEntaffer, a Sioux City, Iowa, native who earned bachelor's degrees in physics and astronomy from the UI, joined the UI faculty in 2008.