Student Features

The Road to NASA
The celebration of Native American month is taking place across the country. Sun-Earth Day -- one of NASA's most exciting educational outreach projects -- will be highlighting the importance of the Sun across the ages and the extensive accomplishments of Native people in understanding the Sun and its relationship to Earth.

One of Sun-Earth Day's main goals is to provide an opportunity for you to learn more about the Sun's connection to the Earth through images, cultural parallels and activities that Native Americans have used to share Sun-Earth science through several generations. Featured are several ancient observatories and sites, providing unique opportunities to develop authentic cultural connections to Native Americans and the Hispanic community.

The celebration is involving Sun-Earth Connection scientists, their missions, and research programs to share the NASA solar research with diverse audiences. An international advisory board of Native American and NASA scientists, archeoastronomers, and National Park Service personnel and others are providing guidance to the project.

Showcased here are three Native American members of the NASA community who represent a variety of expertise and cultural backgrounds.
Picture of Anita Abrego
Image above: Anita gained invaluable experience through summer internships.
Credit: NASA

Anita Abrego
Lummi and Quinault

Anita was born in Houston, Texas, and is the youngest of seven children. While in high school, she moved to the Lummi Reservation just outside of Ferndale, Washington. Anita enjoyed playing basketball and softball, attended as many powwows as possible, and is a fancy shawl dancer.

Anita's first internship experience began at NASA in 1991, where she learned about rotorcraft flight testing. She returned to NASA's Ames Research Center each summer, gaining experience in the areas of finite element analysis, modal testing, neural networks, flight testing, and wind tunnel testing.

Anita is currently working as a researcher and test director for various rotor tests in the seven by 10-foot wind tunnel. Being the first in her family to go to college, she learned about many of the educational opportunities that are available. In doing so, Anita has been able to share that knowledge with others in her family and in her community.
Picture of Jerry Elliott
Image above: Jerry has held progressively responsible positions with NASA since 1966. Credit: NASA

Jerry C. Elliott
Cherokee, Osage

Jerry joined NASA in April, 1966, as a Flight Mission Operations Engineer at NASA's Mission Control Center, and has held progressively responsible technical and managerial positions with highly successful accomplishments in the fields of spacecraft systems, hardware, software, configuration design, trajectories, mission operations, Earth resources, astronaut crew equipment, scientific experiments and technical management. Served as Staff Engineer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in the Apollo/Soyuz Program Office with partial duties dedicated to onboard spacecraft and ground crew mission operations, requirements and scientific experiments for the world's first Russian-American space mission.

Currently, Jerry is serving as Senior Technical Manager, Management Integration Office of the Space Station Program Office, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Prime duties are to assist in developing and implementing a program policy and management processes for the Space Shuttle Program Office Export Control Policy in dealing for foreign governments and international commerce.
Picture of Tianna Shaw
Image above: Tianna grew up on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and has managed to balance her work with her family and culture.
Credit: NASA

Tianna Shaw

Tianna grew up on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in Northern California, and is a member of the Yurok Tribe. Both her mother and her grandmother have strongly influenced Tianna's value system and her cultural identity. Although Tianna is from a small rural community, she has always been encouraged to pursue her interests. Tianna has found that it is possible to live away from home and still maintain strong ties to family and culture. In the course of her education and work life, Tianna has been able to enhance herself by maintaining contact with other Native Americans in addition to pursuing her educational and professional goals. Tianna believes that this has made her a much more rounded person with valuable experiences working with people of diverse backgrounds.

Presently, Tianna is the Manager of the Facilities Utilization Office (FUO) within the Life Sciences Division of NASA Ames Research Center which is responsible for operating and maintaining the Center for Gravitational Biology Research (CGBR). The CGBR is a collection of research facilities, including both centrifuges and linear sleds, which allow investigators to study the effects of gravity on living systems. As the FUO Manager, Tianna provides oversight for CGBR operations, maintenance and upgrades, technical support, budget, experiment planning and scheduling.

Sun-Earth Day
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