With her eye on space, student Julianne Owen is UF’s first Matthew Isakowitz fellow

Planning to further her impact in space, Julianne Owen was selected as the first University of Florida student to participate in the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program.

The highly competitive commercial spaceflight program selected 31 applicants from a pool of 250 students for its seventh cohort this summer. Each fellow will receive one-on-one mentorship, paid internships with commercial space companies, and networking opportunities with the industry’s top leaders.

 This is a major stepping stone for the third-year aerospace engineering student who will be partnered with SpaceX, focusing on the environmental controls and life support systems for its Dragon spacecraft.

“Being in this program has kept me passionate about spaceflight throughout college,” Owen said about her space-related experiential learning opportunities at UF.

Student poses with NASA astronaut

Owen with astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli (Courtesy of Julianne Owen)

Before Owen landed the summer fellowship, she took an unconventional college pathway. She spent three years as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Pathways co-op program, working with the flight mechanics and trajectory design branch, Mission Control, and the thermal systems division. 

She also studied at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and her multi-semester internship allowed her to perform trajectory studies for the Artemis II mission, including lunar dust mitigation testing, and deep space thermal vacuum chamber operations testing. 

Student poses in front of Chamber A at Johnson Space Center

Owen standing with NASA coworkers at Johnson Space Center’s Chamber A (Courtesy of Julianne Owen)

Owen is now involved on campus in UF’s Active Perception and Robot Intelligence Lab (APRILab), with her latest project focusing on coral reef mapping. The lab, which allows undergraduate and doctoral students to conduct experiments like building modular underwater robots, is led by Jane Jaejeong Shin, Ph.D., an assistant professor in UF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Shin knows Owen well, saying she is motivated and fantastic. 

Student poses for headshot

(Courtesy of Julianne Owen)

“The best thing about working with her is how she absorbs information and new concepts quickly,” Shin said.

With a love for rigor and research, Owen attends UF because she feels it is a hub for diverse thought that supports students’ personal growth. She plans to graduate next spring and pursue a graduate degree in either robotics or planetary science. 

“There's a lot of talent at this school,” Owen said. “And I'd love to help raise awareness for these opportunities available to students.”

Halle Burton March 21, 2024