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A&S Student Soars to the Top With Astronaut Scholarship and Research Internship in Germany

By Whitney Hale

Photo of a student
Isha Chauhan

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 4, 2023) — Isha Chauhan, a biology major in the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences and Lewis Honors College student from La Grange, Kentucky, will receive one of 68 Astronaut Scholarships this year and has and completed a DAAD RISE research internship in Germany.

“These awards have given me the opportunity to connect with diverse groups of people and develop cross-cultural relationships,” Chauhan said. “I am so thankful to have received the chance to explore my future career through these unique experiences.”

As an Astronaut Scholar, Chauhan will receive up to $15,000 from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.. The scholarship is presented annually to outstanding college students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math. 

A nonprofit organization, ASF was established by the Mercury Astronauts in 1984. Its goal is to provide scholarships for exceptional college students pursuing degrees in these fields. Since that time, astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and space shuttle programs have joined in this endeavor. UK students have earned more than $200,000 from the ASF since 1998.

In addition to being recognized as an Astronaut Scholar, Chauhan was selected to participate in Research Internships in Science and Engineering  from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdiens).

The  summer internship program is for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. The internships give each student an opportunity to go to one Germany's top universities or research institutions. Around 300 students participate each summer. Chauhan’s summer research was in veterinary science.

The daughter of Vijay and Snehal Chauhan, Isha Chauhan has actively pursued science studies and research since high school.

“I have always had a passion for biology and have always been interested in its diverse range of subject matters from ecology to biochemistry,” said Chauhan, a 2022 Goldwater Scholar.

Co-founder of the Undergraduate Science Journal Club, she is pursuing undergraduate research studying cholesterol disorders in the UK College of Medicine. Previously, Chauhan participated in the Undergraduate Summer Training in Cardiovascular Research program and the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Her research mentor, Gregory Graf, associate director of Saha Cardiovascular Research Center, has helped her define her career goals as a scientist.

“I am very thankful for his mentorship and guidance throughout my four years at UK,"  Chauhan said. "Moreover, all of my professors at UK have been extraordinary and have encouraged me in many ways. I am grateful to be surrounded by their support.”

Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Chauhan plans to pursue a D.V.M./Ph.D. and work with wildlife animals.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in