Alumnus Andrew Dahir Receives NSF Fellowship

The National Science Foundation has named Andrew Dahir, a Texas A&M University-Commerce alumnus, as a recipient of a 2014 Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship program recognizes and supports students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dahir, a current aerospace engineering sciences student at the University of Colorado Boulder, will receive three years of support from the National Science Foundation, including a $32,000 annual stipend, a $12,000 education allowance, international research and professional development opportunities and access to the XSEDE Supercomputer. The fellowship will allow Dahir to continue his doctoral research, “Autonomous Spacecraft Determination using X-ray Navigation Technology.”

“I am delighted to have been chosen from the thousands who applied for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship,” said Dahir. “The field of X-ray navigation was first introduced to me by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell while she was on a lecture circuit at A&M-Commerce. My broad educational experience in math, physics and astronomy, along with my honors thesis research with Dr. Kurtis Williams at A&M-Commerce, helped prepare me to build a strong proposal in X-ray navigation.”

Dahir graduated cum laude with high honors from A&M-Commerce in May 2013, receiving a bachelor’s degree in math and physics with a minor in astronomy. Williams served as advisor for his undergraduate thesis, “Interstellar Navigation by Pulsars.”

“Andrew is not only an excellent student, but also highly inquisitive and creative, two crucial facets of any successful scientist,” Williams said. “As a former NSF Graduate Fellow, I know that this award will be very freeing for Andrew during his graduate career. For the duration of this award, he will not need to worry about financing his education, which is a major headache and time sink for most graduate students. This award is a strong vote of confidence in Andrew and his abilities by the National Science Foundation, and it speaks to Andrew’s promise as one of this generation’s up and coming leaders in science and technology.”

In his doctoral research, Dahir proposes that “algorithms for determining a spacecraft’s location in space can be developed and implemented for self-directed navigation in very deep space.”

“Interning with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and working with X-ray optics under Dr. Mikhail Gubarev imbedded me in a solid background in X-ray astronomy. I look forward to working with my research advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Parker, in the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department at the University of Colorado Boulder,” Dahir said.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the oldest fellowship of its kind and has developed a reputation of vitalizing and diversifying the human resource base of engineering and science in the U.S. Former fellows include U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin, co-author of “Freakonomics” Steven Levitt and numerous Nobel Prize winners.

For more information about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program and to view a complete list of the fellowship recipients, visit