The AAS Molly K. Macauley Award




Date Action
2/12/2021 Abstract Submission Deadline – 11:59 PM EST, Monday, February 12, 2021
3/15/2021 Abstract Acceptance Notification
4/09/2021 Schedule for Virtual Presentations Available
4/16/2021 Final Paper Deadline
4/19-23/2021 Virtual Presentations
4/30/2021 Winner Notification
7/13-7/15/2021 John Glenn Memorial Symposium

The AAS Molly K. Macauley Award seeks to recognize future space industry leaders by awarding and contributing to the professional development of a set of outstanding college and university students. Five finalists and one winner will be selected for each of two tracks: Business and Space Policy; and Science and Engineering. The two winners will receive a $2,000 award. All ten finalists are provided with free registration to attend the annual AAS John Glenn Memorial Symposium. (The 2021 Glenn Symposium will take place online July 13-15, 2021). The two winners are required to make a 5 to 10-minute oral presentation at the Glenn Symposium.

The AAS Molly K. Macauley Award, created in 2019, is named for Molly Macauley, a national leader in environmental economics who helped for many years to establish, lead, and guide research projects combining economics with space research. Her fields of interest and goals were broad, including space related renewable energy, new technologies and natural resources, and helping decision makers understand the economics of space. Molly was tragically murdered in 2016 while out walking her dogs. Her murder is still unsolved today.

For background on this memorial award, please visit The Molly Macauley Award Page.


Applicants for this award must be currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students majoring in science and/or engineering or business and space policy (including law and economics) at an accredited college or university in the United States.


Applications require the following:

  1. An abstract of up to 500 words (see the format below), outlining a space industry related research project in one of the following tracks:
    • Business and Space Policy aspects including Law and Economics
    • Technical aspects of a space-related gap in Science or Engineering
  2. A short C.V. of the applicant, listing academic studies.
  3. A cover letter up to two pages in length, written by the applicant. This letter should explain the applicant’s interest in one or more of the fields of this award, and the applicant’s expectations of gaining further experience or work in these fields.
  4. A letter of reference (PDF format) supporting the application from a major professor or senior colleague. This letter of reference should be sent directly from your professor or senior colleague to aas@astronautical.org with the subject line: “2021 Macauley Award – Letter of Reference”.

In March, five abstracts from each track will be invited to submit full papers and present their work orally to the AAS Macauley Review Committee in a virtual meeting setting. Full papers will be a maximum of ten pages (not including the supplemental documents – C.V., cover letter, letter of reference) detailing the subject of their abstract. Presentations will be 10-15 minutes in duration. The papers and presentations will be judged by a panel of experts during the month of April.

At the end of April, one applicant from each track will be selected to receive a $2,000 award. Winners of each category are required to make a 5 to 10-minute oral presentation at the Symposium.

In addition, the ten finalists will receive free registration to attend the Symposium.

All student abstracts for the Macauley Award must be submitted to AAS no later than 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, February 12, 2021. Click here to submit your abstract. 


Abstract Title

Abstract: The body of the abstract begins here. It should be an explicit summary of your work that states the problem, the methods used or to be used, and the major results and conclusions expected or obtained. Do not include bullets, lists, graphs, or images in the abstract. The abstract should be a single-spaced document. The abstract is limited to 500 words.

Next the abstract should state the problem you propose to solve or the issue you set out to explore. Explain your rationale for pursuing the project. The problem or issue might be a research question, a scientific concern, a business challenge or space policy (including law and economics) challenge. The purpose of your study is to solve this problem and/or add to your discipline’s understanding of the issue. This section of the abstract should explain how you solved or will solve the problem, or explore the issue you identified. Your abstract should also describe your research methods. This section should include a concise description of the process by which you will conduct or have conducted your research.

Next, the abstract should list the results or outcomes of the work you have done so far.

Your abstract should conclude with a statement of the project’s implications and contributions to its field. It should convince readers that the project is interesting, valuable, and worth further investigation. The abstract should be compelling and attract the reviewers’ curiosity.

Click here for more information about the Molly K. Macauley Award.