The summer before Jamestown Public Schools student Lucas Liuzzo started eighth grade, he interviewed for the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum Scholarship, awarded by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. If selected, Lucas would receive financial assistance to spend a week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I can actually still recall the nervous feeling I had before walking into the interview that I wouldn’t know enough about space to be selected,” Lucas said.
It turned out, Lucas’ knowledge about space wasn’t the only deciding factor. Even at a young age, the interview committee recognized his passion for science and space and awarded him the scholarship.
In January 2006, he made the trip from Jamestown to Hunstville, Alabama to spend a week at the U.S. Space Camp and Rocket Center.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I remember doing mock space missions, talking about spacecraft design and the International Space Station.”
In the years following Lucas’ trip, his interest in space, planets and the solar system grew. He graduated from Jamestown High School, received his bachelor’s degree in earth system science and engineering from the University of Michigan and went on to receive his PhD. in planetary and space physics from Georgia Institute of Technology.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Lucas became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow focusing on Callisto, one of the moons of Jupiter, that possesses a global saltwater ocean beneath its surface that may be suitable to harbor life.
“Understanding the depth of Callisto’s ocean, how salty it is, and exactly how much water there is, are open questions that are extremely relevant to upcoming spacecraft missions to Jupiter that aim to search for signatures of life throughout our solar system,” he said.
Today, Lucas is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Space Science Laboratory at the University of California, Berkley. He has written over a dozen publications and hosted numerous presentations related to his research.
“Not only was Space Camp a huge influence on my decision to head into science, but various CRCF scholarships throughout my undergraduate and graduate years were extremely useful in continuing my education,” he said.
The Lucile M. Wright Air Museum Scholarship is available to local individuals, fourth grade and older, who wish to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Applications and materials are due Nov. 15.