Mahsa Taheran, a doctoral student, is the 2022 winner of the $10,000 Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award. Taheran is a software systems engineer at the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) at the University of Stuttgart. The prize is awarded by Zonta International. Each year, Zonta honors around 30 young female scientists who, like Amelia Earhart, have made pioneering contributions to aerospace technology.
Astronomical observation using stratospheric balloons
Mahsa Taheran received special recognition for her research as part of the EU-funded project ESBO DS (European Stratospheric Balloon Observatory - Design Study). The project's research team is working on developing astronomical telescopes that can be carried by scientific stratospheric balloons. Instead of a satellite, a balloon brings telescopes to an altitude of about 37 kilometers. At this height, these are already above the majority of the Earth's atmosphere. At a lower altitude, the atmosphere can disrupt astronomical measurements. Balloon-borne telescopes are a less expensive alternative to space telescopes, especially when it comes to observations in the infrared range.
Before starting her work for ESBO DS, Taheran worked in Iran for several years and was involved in an international youth organization. She completed her education in Iran, Spain and Italy.
In the University of Stuttgart's podcast "Made in Science", Mahsa Taheran explains her research and the significance of the Amelia Earhart Fellowship, as well as providing personal insights into her career:
"Mentoring plays a significant role for gender equality"
Amelia Earhart Fellowship 2022 Award Ceremony
The certificate for the Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award was presented to Mahsa Taheran at a ceremony hosted by Zonta Club Stuttgart on January 27, 2023. Sabine Klinkner, professor of satellite technology at the IRS and supervisor of her doctoral thesis, delivered a speech honoring Taheran's achievements. And the award winner herself also delivered a short presentation about her research.
About the Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award
The Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award was established in 1938 to honor pilot Amelia Earhart, who became the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a 20-hour solo flight in 1932. She used the popularity and recognition she gained from her flying achievements to advocate for women's rights. She helped women gain admission to technical colleges and assisted them in choosing technical careers. Amelia Earhart went missing in 1937 whilst attempting to circumnavigate the globe along the equator. The Amelia Earhart Fellowship Award is designed to support the research of young female scientists and motivate them in their future careers. To date, 1,704 fellowships have been awarded to women from 76 countries. These 30 women - from 18 countries - were Amelia Earhart Fellows in 2022.
What is Zonta?
Zonta International is a global association for professional women in positions of responsibility. As an NGO at the United Nations as well as in individual local clubs, it pursues the goal of improving the position of women legally, politically, economically, socially and professionally. Worldwide, the association boasts more than 1,200 clubs with more than 30,000 members across 63 countries.