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NASA awards $64.1 million research grant to Catholic University


Patrick G Ryan | Catholic University

Members of the CatholicU research team who are part of the collaboration with NASA.

J-P Mauro - published on 07/17/21

This grant brings the total funding CUA receives from NASA up to nearly $90 million over the next five years.

The Catholic University of America was recently awarded the largest single research grant in the school’s history. The $64.1 million grant will go towards funding a cooperative agreement between CUA and NASA. CUA is among six D.C. area schools to have recently partnered with NASA. 

The grant will establish the Partnership for Heliophysics and Space Environment Research (PHaSER), for five years. PHaSER, in turn, will help advance the program of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Heliophysics Science Division (HSD).

Of the new grant, University Provost Aaron Dominguez said: 

“When executed, this becomes the largest single research grant in the history of The Catholic University of America, and when taken with our recent subaward on the CRESST II NASA cooperative agreement, pushes our NASA-funded project total to just over $90 million over the next five years.”


According to CUA, the PHaSER program has several purposes, beginning with strengthening the partnership with HSD. PHaSER will facilitate collaborations between the two bodies, while nurturing and creating opportunities for the next generation of scientists. Through the program, students will forge relationships with NASA personnel that will ready them for success in their field.

Bob Robinson, director of PHaSER and research professor of physics at CUA, explained the specific research they will conduct: 

“The mission of the Heliophysics Division is to study the transport of energy, in the form of  particles and radiation from the sun through interplanetary space and its effects on Earth’s atmosphere and ionosphere.”

PHaSER is just the most recent collaboration between CUA and NASA. In 2016, the two entered into a cooperative agreement that established the Center for Excellence in the Physics of the Heliosphere and Sun (CEPHEUS). This agreement saw CUA’s Physics Department install a Space Weather Center. Over the last five years, the center has studied space weather phenomena. 

Visit CUA to learn more about this exciting expansion to the university’s scientific programs.

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