Eye on EESI Research

Linda Bell (photo)

May 2014

Space grant programs at 13 universities, special scholarships for students and research awards for astrobiologists.

Linda Bell has a hand in it all.

Bell is administrative manager for the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center, both of which are housed within the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. The Space Grant program, aimed at helping future scientists and engineers pursue their passions, marked its 25th anniversary in 2013. In that year alone, the Pennsylvania program that Bell helps run awarded grants to about 400 undergraduate and graduate students.

Bell handles the budgeting from the beginning to the end, including proposals, making sure the plans stay on track, overseeing spending and trouble-shooting questions from students, faculty and staff. That could be students looking for guidance on their scholarships or faculty on the other side of the world running into trouble getting the freight they need for their research off a boat.

“I enjoy working with the professors,” Bell said. "I love collaborating with them and getting ideas. It's absolutely amazing what some of these consortia are doing. To go to national centers, like Goddard, and see what they’re doing is absolutely mind blowing."

The Pennsylvania Space Grant program is one of 52 across the country. The Space Grant programs include scholarship, fellowships and lab work for students at Penn State and other schools around the state. The work crosses colleges, drawing participants in Earth and Mineral Sciences, Education, Liberal Arts, Engineering and Health and Human Development.

Among those programs is the Women in Science and Engineering Program (WISER), which matches female undergraduates at Penn State main campus, Altoona and Abington, Temple University and Gannon University with professors in science and engineering. About 80 professors are participating in this program.

Bell's office also began managing the Astrobiology Research Center in 2013. In this position, she works with faculty and graduate students from Penn State and other schools including UCLA, Cal Tech, and the Arizona State University.

Bell has worked in EESI since December 2007. Before that, she worked in the Smeal College of Business for 27 years.

"I just love my job, it is as simple as that!" she said.