Sherry Fieber-Beyer, a doctoral student in the Earth System Science and Policy department at the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, has been awarded a $30,000-per-year, three-year NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for her research project titled, "Mineralogical Characterizations of Asteroids Near the 3:1 Kirkwood Gap."

Fieber-Beyer's overall score surpassed those of 43 other individuals who applied from across the United States.

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Dr. Mike Gaffey, Fieber-Beyer's faculty adviser and professor of Space Studies, said, "Being awarded this highly prestigious fellowship means that the planetary science community recognizes the quality of Sherry's previous work, the scientific importance of her proposed research project, and her great future potential as a professional in the field."

The NESSF program solicited applications from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of students who are working toward master's or doctoral degrees in Earth and space sciences at respective institutions.

The purpose of NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified work force in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's scientific goals outlined by the NASA Science Mission Directorate objectives and NASA's strategic goals. Awards resulting from the competitive selection were made in the form of training grants to the respective universities with the faculty adviser serving as the principal investigator.

The research program coordinates observations using the NASA IRTF SpeX instrument (Hawaii) with the Multi-Mirror Telescope Red Channel spectrograph (Arizona) to obtain high signal-to-noise Visible-Near-infrared spectra (0.3-2.5 nanometers) of asteroids in a zone centered on the 3:1 resonance. These spectra will be used to mineralogically characterize asteroid surfaces in this zone in order to identify their meteorite analogs (if any). If meteorite analogs can be identified, the cosmic ray exposure ages of those meteorites would empirically constrain the dynamical lifetimes of objects from the 3:1 resonance.

Fieber-Beyer received her Bachelor of Science in physics and astronomy in 2003 from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and a Master of Science in physics in 2006 from UND. She intends to graduate with a Ph.D. in Earth system science and policy from UND in 2010.

She is the daughter of Dennis Fieber and Kevin and Terry O'Meara, all of Jamestown.