The Galactic Unite Scholarship at the University of Leicester

Undergraduate Physics majors pursuing Space Science or Astrophysics can now apply to the Galactic Unite Scholarship at the University of Leicester.

The program will award individual scholarships from the £10,000 endowment to selected scholars, and will include one-on-one mentoring opportunities with a Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut or Spacefarer, or a member of the Virgin Galactic or The Spaceship Company team.

Paul Williams, donor and founder of this scholarship programme, is a senior technologist at Bloomberg, working with real-time data for the world’s financial markets. Paul is a Virgin Galactic Spacefarer, joining hundreds of other space enthusiasts worldwide for the opportunity to one day become private astronauts and experience the wonder of space for themselves.

As a passionate advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Paul accompanied Dr. Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester, on a tour of the Virgin Galactic manufacturing facility in Mojave, California in 2018. The centerpiece was VSS Unity, just back from a successful test flight. Paul was inspired: “I saw a diverse range of disciplines, from scientists and engineers to technicians and logistics personnel, all with different experiences and backgrounds. Through shared vision, strong determination, and imagination, they’ve worked together to bring a complex, ambitious and inspiring project to fruition.” He determined not only to sign up to the programme himself, but to help pave the way for students, regardless of their background, to pursue excellence in the hope that they too might find themselves at the forefront of future technological advances on Earth and beyond.

To be eligible to apply, applicants must be first-year students at the University of Leicester and declared Physics majors. Scholarships will not be awarded for academic excellence, but will be awarded to those applicants who have been able to demonstrate that they will benefit most from the scholarship funding and mentorship opportunities provided.

The programme will be led by Dr. Suzie Imber, an Associate Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester. She specialises in studying space weather; understanding the impact of the solar wind on the magnetised planets. Her current research focusses on preparations to Mercury, and she is heavily involved in, and preparing for the arrive of, the BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2025.

Galactic Unite is Virgin Galactic’s outreach initiative born out of a unique collaboration between the Future Astronaut customer community and Virgin Unite, the independent entrepreneurial foundation of the Virgin Group and the Branson family.

Learn more about Galactic Unite on their website, and please contact Dr. Imber with any queries about how to apply for the scheme.

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