A photo of MPLAN principal investigator awardees from various minority-serving institutions at the 2023 NASA Better Together conference in San Jose, California.
Credits: NASA

NASA has selected 23 minority-serving institutions to receive $1.2 million to grow their research and technology capabilities, collaborate on research projects, and contribute to the agency’s missions for the benefit of humanity.

Through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Partnership Learning Annual Notification (MPLAN) award, selected institutions will receive up to $50,000 each for a six-month period to work directly on STEM projects with subject matter experts in NASA’s mission directorates.

“As NASA looks to inspire the next generation, the Artemis Generation, we are intentional in increasing access for all,” said Shahra Lambert, NASA senior advisor for engagement and equity. “It’s a daring task to return to the Moon then venture to Mars, but NASA is known to make the impossible possible. By funding partnerships such as MPLAN, and tapping into all pools of STEM resources, including MSIs, we are ensuring the future of our missions are in good hands.”

The awards will contribute to research opportunities in preparation for larger funding programs such as NASA’s annual Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer solicitation, the Space Technology Research Grant Program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the University Leadership Initiative within the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and the Human Research Program within NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate.

“These awards will help unlock the full potential of students traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research and careers,” said Torry Johnson, deputy associate administrator of STEM Engagement Projects at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Through this award, universities receive support, resources, and guidance directly from NASA experts, which can be a game changer for the work they do to develop technological innovations that contribute to NASA missions and benefit all of humanity.”

The awardees are as follows:

Arizona State University

Drones for Contact-inclusive Planetary Exploration

California State University-Dominguez Hills

Bioinspired Surface Design for Thermal Extremes

California State University-Fresno

Human-Centric Digital Twins in NASA Space Missions

California State University-Northridge

Repurposing Lander Parts into Geodesic Assemblies

California State University, Monterey Bay

Crafting Biofuels via Molecular Insights

CUNY New York City College of Technology

Polyethylene Glycol Diacrylate for Seed Growth: Microgreens in Space

Delgado Community College, New Orleans, Louisiana

Freshmen Access to CubeSat Education

Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina

New Tech for Storm Tracking with Machine Learning

Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia

Sustained Approach for Energetic Lunar Operation

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Information-Theoretic Multi-Robot Exploration

Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Robot Leg Design for Lunar Exploration

Regents of New Mexico State University

Extreme Aerodynamics Over Small Air Vehicles

San Diego State University

Enhanced Aero-Composites: Reinforcement Innovation

San Francisco State University

Early Non-invasive Diagnosis of Heart Diseases

San Jose State University

Designing Resilient Battery System for Space

Southern University and A & M College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

X-Ray 3D Printing of Nanocomposites for AME

Plant Antimicrobial in Space Exploration using AI

Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

Non-contact Optical Sensor for Biomedicine

The Research Foundation of CUNY on behalf of City College, New York

Soft Tendril-inspired Robot for Space Exploration

The University of Texas at San Antonio

Hydrodynamic Stability of Jets via Neural Networks

Low-SWaP Water Electrolyzer for Lunar/Martian In-Situ Resource Utilization

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Tuneable NanoEnergetic Microthruster Cartridges

University of California, Irvine

Flexible Modular Robots for Extreme Access

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Ultrasound methods for monitoring carcinogenesis

University of New Mexico

All-climate and Ultrafast Aluminum Ion Batteries

The awarded institutions and their partners are invited to meet with NASA researchers and MUREP representatives throughout the remainder of 2024. The meetings serve as training sessions to pursue future NASA opportunities. These trainings focus primarily on fostering collaboration, enhancing technical skills, and providing insights into NASA’s research priorities to better prepare participants for future opportunities.

To learn more about MPLAN, visit:



Gerelle Dodson
Headquarters, Washington
[email protected]



Last Updated
Jul 01, 2024

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