CEMS undergraduate named 2018 Astronaut Scholar

May 16, 2018 - Elizabeth Zudock, an undergraduate student majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry, has been awarded a scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The prestigious, competitive scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, engineering, and the natural and applied sciences. The scholarship awards up to $10,000 for a year of undergraduate study. In addition, recipients will receiving mentoring and professional development support, attend the Astronaut Foundation’s Innovators Gala in Washington D.C., and have the opportunity to participate in other Astronaut Foundation events.

Zudock, of Katy, Texas, plans to combine engineering and medicine to create cost-effective therapies that help to resolve healthcare inequalities. In pursuit of this goal, Zudock has been working for three years with CEMS Professor Benjamin Hackel to engineer new proteins with clinical applications. Her research which helped to develop a cancer-targeting protein is the basis of two articles, one of which has been published in Molecular Pharmaceutics. She is currently working on new research with probiotic bacteria to target and kill antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Zudock has also developed her commitment to health care as a licensed Emergency Medical Technician with the University’s Emergency Medical Services and as a Nursing Unit volunteer at Fairview Hospital. On campus, she is a member of the University Honors Program; the vice president of the Microbiology Club; the Community Service Coordinator for Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society; and a medic for the Pride of Minnesota Marching Band. A graduate of Seven Lakes High School, she is a National Merit Scholar, a University of Minnesota Gold Scholar and a University nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was founded in 1985 by the Mercury 7 astronauts, one of whom, Donald “Deke” Slayton, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering in 1949. Prevented from piloting the second U.S. manned orbital space flight by an irregular heart rhythm, Slayton served as NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations and later was cleared to pilot the docking module in the Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975. The Astronaut Scholarships are awarded to students at 35 universities with historic ties to the U.S. space program who demonstrate leadership, imagination, and academic excellence in the study of mathematics, science or engineering. Twenty-nine students from the University of Minnesota have been recognized as Astronaut Scholars.

For more information on the Astronaut Scholarship, visit

Excerpt from a news release written by Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering, and Lacey Nygard, University News Service.

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