Molly Macauley’s Legacy Lives on Through the AAS Molly K. Macauley Award

By Luci Willis | February 3, 2020

By Luci Willis | February 3, 2020

2019 Molly K. Macauley Science and Engineering track award winner Miguel Ramirez presenting his research at the Inaugural John Glenn Memorial Symposium.

The American Astronautical Society is excited to announce that the Molly K. Macauley Award is once again open for abstract submissions. This award was created with the intent to help students in both STEM and non-STEM related fields establish their careers in the space industry. With two winners receiving a $2,500 travel grant to attend a future space conference and the opportunity to share their research at the John Glenn Memorial Symposium, this award continues Molly’s impact on the space industry.

“[Winning] the Macauley Award meant not only the recognition of the work I have been passionately engaged in, but also it provided me with the opportunity to network with several space industry leaders as well as visit some of the breathtaking NASA facilities.” said a 2019 award winner Miguel Ramirez when reflecting back on his experience.

About Molly Macauley

This prestigious monetary award was inaugurated in 2019 in honor of Molly K. Macauley, an amazing economist who specialized in satellites and the emerging dynamics and regulations of space. She dedicated 35 years of service to the development of the economics of space. At the time of her death in 2019, Molly was serving as the vice president of Resources for the Future (RFF), a Washington think-tank and leader in economic analysis and policy innovation for managing environmental and natural resources.

Molly’s prolific and impactful career included serving on several special committees of the National Academy of Sciences and other federal agencies, testifying frequently before Congress, and authoring more than 80 articles, reports, and books.

Molly Macauley

Her wide-ranging influence spanned across numerous important topics, including space economics and policy, the economics of new technologies for research and understanding of the interactions between people and natural resources, the use of economic incentives in environmental regulation, climate and earth science, and recycling and solid waste management. This award is given in the earnest hope that Macauley’s life work and values will continue to live on through new research and projects. This award is an excellent opportunity for any student who seeks support to pursue research in fields related to Macauley’s life work and provides an exceptional opportunity for the two winners to present their research at the John Glenn Memorial Symposium and dialogue with thought-leaders in their fields.


The AAS Molly K. Macauley Award is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in or are currently conducting work that relates to Molly’s values of research and leadership in space policy and economics. To be eligible, applicants must be currently enrolled and majoring in either a science/engineering or business/space policy (including law and economics) track at an accredited university in the United States.

Award Details

In order to be considered for the award, students must submit a 500-word abstract outlining their space research projects in one of two tracks: a Business/Space Policy focused track (including Law and Economics)  or a Science/Engineering focused track. Ten students, 5 finalists from each of the two tracks, will be selected by an AAS awards committee to present their research at a poster session held during the 2020 John Glenn Memorial Symposium. The 2020 John Glenn Memorial Symposium will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, July 14-16. Each of the 10 finalists will receive a $500 stipend to attend the symposium. Ultimately, one winner will be selected from each track and awarded a $2,500 grant and the opportunity to deliver a 10 to 15-minute oral presentation at the AAS Glenn Symposium.

“Presenting at the John Glenn symposium was truly a phenomenal experience and I highly encourage it!” Said Ramirez. “My advisor Dr. R. Byron Pipes, Dr. Sergey Kravchenko, and colleague Ariel Dimston had encouraged me to apply for the Macauley Award, and I am undoubtedly elated and fortunate to have done so.”

The $2,500 grant is intended to defray costs associated with presenting their research at future space conferences, and to provide the winners with the opportunity to continue to travel and present their work to the community at future conferences.

The Inaugural John Glenn Memorial Symposium in Cleveland, Ohio

Additional Information

More information on this award, along with the abstract submission portal can be found on the Macauley Award web page. . Students can direct any questions to Patrick Rouin, Events Coordinator for the AAS at patrick.rouin@astronautical.org.

Luci Willis is a long-time space enthusiast and graduate student at the University of Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business.