The AAS Molly K. Macauley Award

DEADLINE Extension: 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, February 7, 2020

About the Award

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. All ten finalists are provided with a $500 travel award, free registration to the annual AAS John Glenn Memorial Symposium, and the opportunity to present their research as a poster at the Symposium. (The 2020 Glenn Symposium will take place July 14-16, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.) The two winners will receive an additional $2,500 award toward attendance at any future conference that includes topics related to the author’s paper’s subject. The two winners are also invited and expected to make a 10 to 15-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.

Past Winners


Josh Wolny, Macauley Award winner for the Business and Space Policy track, presents his paper: Policy Challenges to Addressing the Space Debris Threat, at the inaugural Glenn Symposium.

Video of Josh Wolny’s presentation

Miguel Ramirez, Macauley Award winner for the Science and Engineering track, presents his paper: A virtual laboratory framework to model and predict mechanical performance of advanced composite forms and short fiber composites, at the inaugural Glenn Symposium.

Video of Miguel Ramirez’s presentation



The Call for Abstracts for the 2020 AAS Macauley Award is now open.

DEADLINE Extension: 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, February 7, 2020


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.

Application Process:

Applications must include 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:
    1. Business and Space Policy aspects including Law and Economics
    2. 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 supporting the application from a major professor or senior colleague.

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 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.

In May, one applicant from each track will be selected to receive a $2,500 award. The award is intended to defray costs of attending any future conference in 2020/2021 that includes topics related to the paper’s subject. Winners of each category are also invited and expected to make a 10 to 15-minute oral presentation at the Symposium.

All ten finalists (including the two winners) will be offered the opportunity to present their work as a poster at the AAS Glenn Symposium and will receive a $500 travel award and free registration to attend the Symposium.


Abstract Title

Abstract: The body of the abstract begins here. It should be an explicit summary of your presentation 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.

The first part of 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.

For more information contact: Patrick Rouin, Events Coordinator for the American Astronautical Society at