For DonorsFor Applicants

Imm Astronomy Scholarship

Funded by
2 winners, $2,000 each
Application Deadline
May 24, 2024
Winners Announced
Jun 24, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior or undergraduate
Field of Study:
Astronomy, Astrophysics, Science or Engineering

Astronomy plays a crucial role in expanding our understanding of the universe and our place within it. It drives scientific discovery, technological innovation, and deepens our appreciation for the cosmos. By studying celestial objects, we gain insights into the origin of the universe, planetary systems, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Astronomy not only satisfies our innate curiosity but also has practical applications in fields like navigation, communication, and space exploration, contributing to our overall knowledge and progress.

This scholarship will support students who plan to make a career out of their passion for Astronomy.

Any high school senior or undergraduate interested in and/or currently studying Astronomy, Astrophysics, Science or Engineering is eligible to apply for this scholarship. Students with a strong interest in Astronomy will be given preference.

To apply, please tell us what field you are going into and why you are interested in a career in astronomy. Additionally, describe the ideal job for you in 10 years time.

Selection Criteria:
Drive, Impact, Passion
Published February 23, 2024
Essay Topic

Please tell us what field you are going into and why you are interested in a career in astronomy. Additionally, describe the ideal job for you in 10 years time.

400–600 words

Winning Applications

McKayla Procopio
Drexel UniversityCherry Hill, NJ
Even as a young girl, space always piqued my interest. One of my earliest memories is from pre-k, when my mom was going to come into class and read a book from my collection at home. The night before, she had me pick out one of my books from my collection. Without hesitation, I picked There’s No Place Like Space by Tish Rabe, a book I frequently read at home. I remember my mom coming in and reading it to my class the following day. In elementary school, we had our first space unit in second grade, which perfectly coincided with the total lunar eclipse that occurred in December of 2010. We learned about the seasons, the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the sun, and eclipses. When I went home and talked about my day with my parents, I had even more questions about why these events happen, to which my dad directed me to his National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky, which had a lot of technical information but also included pictures, which were more fascinating to 8-year-old me.  As I got older, I still continued to have my passion for space, but my hope started to dwindle after hearing over and over about how opportunities in astronomy were too difficult for me. I tried to lean into other career opportunities, but I didn’t want to abandon my hope for astronomy and astrophysics. When applying to colleges, I wanted to be a physics major and do my concentration in astrophysics. As the start date for my first fall term approached, I started to fear that all of the noise I'd heard in years past was true, and I doubted myself. I changed my major to undeclared for my first year. I took coursework in biology and physics my freshman year while also completing general education requirements. There was a strong pull towards physics, but it was still daunting. After completing research experiences in biology during my sophomore year and even declaring a major in biology, I started to miss physics more, and I wanted to go back. I made the jump and declared physics as a major once again, and I had the task of catching up in my coursework. It has been very tough, but I have been successful. I am currently doing my co-op experience, part of Drexel’s curriculum, researching astrophysics and cosmology, utilizing data from the Dark Energy Survey within Drexel’s Department of Physics.  One of my favorite aspects of physics is the way it makes me think. The thought process never truly stops, whether I am working on a problem set or in my co-op experience. “Why is this pendulum moving this way? What can gravitational lensing tell us? Where could other carbon-based life forms be in the universe?” are all thoughts that allow me to think deeper at the physical properties that define the way the world works. As a result, I have an interest in physics and astronomy that grows daily.  I have two more years of undergrad left before moving on to graduate school, where I hope to do a Ph.D. in physics and study astronomy and astrophysics. After that, the ideal job for me would be researching exoplanets for potential signs of life at NASA. I attended an event at a local museum in Philadelphia regarding astrobiology, and it fueled even more questions in my head that I would love to find answers to, whether I read about the answers in a paper or I discover them myself.
Somya Jha
University of Michigan-Ann ArborBLOOMINGTON, IL
My fascination with space began in elementary school, when I read a book titled Why Is Snot Green? Despite its crude title (highly appealing to my eight year old self), the book was highly informative. It was set in a question-and-answer format, with two characters: a young boy who would ask questions and an old man who would answer them. The topics jumped around according to the boy’s train of thought, but one exchange between the two characters wormed its way into my brain (through the nasal cavity) and never left. The boy asked the man what would happen if one was to go into space without a space suit on. The man replied that they would freeze and burn simultaneously. I was blown away. What kind of place could make someone freeze and burn at the same time? It sounded like something fantastical, not something that could exist in the real world. It felt like something that could only be true in the pages of one of my fantasy novels. This sparked a relentless curiosity within me. Everything I learned about space only intrigued me more. The idea that the universe is expanding, driven by a force we hardly understand, is exhilarating. This challenges our very understanding of physics, of gravity even. Now, as an undergraduate student studying astrophysics, I have immersed myself in courses and research that explores these mind-boggling phenomena. My coursework has provided me with a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of physics and astronomy, which I can then in turn apply to the research that I conduct. This past semester, I explored the composition of dust in protoplanetary disks in T Tauri stars with Dr. Nuria Calvet at the University of Michigan. Being able to use actual data to find the real composition of an actual star was such a rewarding experience. Taking everything I have learned thus far and making an actual finding, an actual contribution to the scientific world, felt like the experience of a lifetime. This semester’s worth of research has made me incredibly confident that I am in the correct field. With my undergraduate degree, I intend to apply to graduate programs where I can conduct research, and eventually even teach at a university myself. I want to immerse myself in academia and research. In ten years, I envision myself as a professor at a leading university. I will be conducting cutting-edge research on dark matter and dark energy. I will be teaching curious and passionate undergraduates and sparking their own journeys with astronomy. As a woman of color in STEM, I am all too aware of the underrepresentation of minority groups in the sciences. I hope that my presence in this field– and maybe someday, my presence as a professor– will show other young women that they have a place studying astronomy. I am committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment in academia: celebrating diversity and ensuring that every voice is given space. Diversity drives innovation. With the support of this scholarship, I hope to continue my studies and work towards a future where I can make a difference both in our galaxy and in the lives of those on Earth.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 24, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jun 24, 2024.

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