Undergraduate Awards & Scholarships

Recent Awards

2024 Mary Dailey Irvine Outstanding Thesis Award

 Zach Webb (UMass)

2023 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher Award

            Timothy McQuaid

2023 Outstanding Astronomy Senior Award

            Samuel Millstone

2023 Astronomy Award for Academic Excellence

           Daniel Krista-Kelsey & Liam Yanulis

2023 David van Blerkom Research Scholarship

           Giselle Hoermann & Andrew Wright

2023 Mary Dailey Irvine Thesis Award

           Cailin Plunkett (Amherst College)


Important Update


As of December 1, 2018, all CNS-wide scholarships are administered through Academic Works. 

The Department of Astronomy and the College of Natural Sciences offer a variety of scholarships and awards to recognize the hard work and academic success of our students, assist students with the expense of their education, and support student research and internships. The majority of these scholarships and awards are funded through the generosity of alumni and other members of the CNS community. We encourage all current Astronomy students to apply.


How to Apply

The university has implemented AcademicWorks, an online application system for scholarships offered at UMass Amherst. Simply enroll in AcademicWorks, fill out both the UMass general application and the CNS application. The system will automatically submit your application to the scholarships and awards for which you are fully eligible and will inform you of other scholarships for which you would need to supply additional materials to apply.

Enroll in AcademicWorks

Go to the AcademicWorks webpage and sign in with your UMass Net ID and password.

  • Complete both the general application and the CNS application. The system will show if you are eligible for scholarships that require additional application materials.
  • Click on each scholarship link and upload any required supplementary materials (such as resumes or faculty recommendations).
  • Submit your application and check your dashboard to see the status of any pending and submitted applications.

Email acadworks@umass.edu if you have any questions.



Past Awards


David J. Van Blerkom Research Scholarship in Astronomy

Application info will be added.

An endowment fund established by Janet Van Blerkom. The purpose of the fund is to endow undergraduate research scholarships in the Department of Astronomy in memory of her husband, David J. Van Blerkom, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts. Professor Van Blerkom came to UMass as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1969, joined the faculty in 1970, served as Chair of the Astronomy Program from 1980-1999, and then continued on the faculty until 2001. This scholarship fund is awarded based on academic excellence to a University of Massachusetts undergraduate and supports a research internship for that undergraduate.


  • 2022 Daniel Krista-Kelsey & Samuel Millstone
  • 2021 Caleigh Ryan & Shamus Flynn
  • 2020 Lillian Wright & Anthony Englert
  • 2017 Tara Dowd
  • 2016 Jonah Chaban & Kendall Sullivan
  • 2015 Bela Nelson & Ryan Boyden
  • 2014 Timothy Costa & Aaron Dunbrack
  • 2013 Sean McElwee & Kevin Harrington
  • 2012 Kelsie Krafton & Marie D. Calapa
  • 2011 Jamie Budynkiewicz & Kelly Malone
  • 2010 Jack McCoy & Joe Lyons
  • 2009 Mary MacDonald & Aaron Meyer
  • 2008 Daniel Moriarty & Shaina Rogstad
  • 2007 Jared Rand
  • 2006 Kimberly McKee
  • 2005 Patrick Dragon
  • 2004 Teresa Liberatore
  • 2003 Christopher Duston


Outstanding Astronomy Senior Award

The Outstanding Astronomy Senior Award is awarded to a graduating undergraduate student who has demonstrated outstanding performance across the multiple dimensions of academics, research, and community engagement. The Department of Astronomy awards one such recognition each year.


  • 2022. Meredith Stone


Astronomy Award for Academic Excellence

The Astronomy Award for Academic Excellence is awarded to a graduating undergraduate student who has achieved outstanding academic performance, through excellent GPA. The Department of Astronomy awards up to two such recognitions each year.


  • 2022 Emily Martsen and Caleigh Ryan


Mary Dailey Irvine Prize

This prize is established through a gift from the Irvine Family to the Five College Astronomy Department in memory of Mary Dailey Irvine (Smith College 1922). This prize exists to encourage and honor excellent undergraduate research in astronomy and astrophysics. The prize is awarded to a graduating senior from one of the Five College institutions for an outstanding senior thesis or research paper presented to the department on an astronomical or astrophysical topic.


  •  2024 Zach Webb, University of Massachusetts, “New Insight into the Radial Distribution of Globular Clusters in Abell 2744 Using JWST”

  • 2023 Cailin Plunkett, Amherst College, “Population properties of protoplanets: quantifying completeness in the presence of accretion”

  • 2022 Meredith Stone, University of Massachusetts, “The Coevolution of Star Formation and Supermassive Black Hole Accretion in Local Dusty Galaxies”

  • 2020 Olivia Cooper, Smith College, "Tales from our Dusty, Warped Past: Lensing Environments of Planck-selected Submillimeter Galaxies Observed with Gemini"
  • 2019 Olena Komarova, Smith College, "V410 X-Ray 6: A Multi-Wavelength Study of Transition Disk Properties at the Substellar Boundary"
  • 2018 Alex Watson, Amherst College, "Examining Astrometry and Photometry of the Close Companion HD 142527 B Through Direct Imaging".
  • 2017 Laura Breitenfeld, Mt. Holyoke College, "Predicting Olivine Composition Using Raman Spectroscopy through Band Shift and Multivariate Analyses"
  • 2016 Kevin Harrington, University of Massachusetts, "
  • 2015 Wanda Feng, Smith College, "Revisiting Forbidden Lines in T Tauri Stars"
  • 2014 Jenny Podel, Smith College, "Studying Accretion and Winds in Young Stars with Spectroscopy"
  • 2013 Srishti Kashyap, Mount Holyoke, "Isolating & Characterizing An Fe(III) Transforming Deep Sea Thermophilic Archaeon "
  • 2012 Erica Ruth Jawin, Mount Holyoke, "The Relationship between Radar Scattering and Lunar Surface Roughness "
  • 2011 Kathryn McKinnon, Amherst College, "Decaying Dark Matter as a Possible Resolution to the Cusp Problem in Large-Scale Structure"
  • 2010 Lindsey Barbieri, Hampshire College, "Deciphering Late-Amazonian Climate Change on Mars using Evidence Preserved in Gully Fan Stratigraphy".
  • 2009 Jonathan Tucker, Amherst College, "Calibrating Chemcam: Preparing to Probe the Red Planet"
  • 2008 Coleman Mason Krawczyk, University of Massachusetts, "Properties of Ambient Molecular Cloud Emission on the Regions of Methanol Masers"
  • 2007 Catherine C. Walker, Mount Holyoke College, "Variation of Solar Wind Parameters over a Solar Cycle: Expectations for NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) Mission"
  • 2006 Tiffany Picard, Mount Holyoke College, "Rotational Properties and Radii of the Stars in NGC2264: Extending the Timeline of Angular Momentum Evolution"
  • 2005 Selby Cull, Hampshire College, "A Dynamic Digital Map of Mars"
  • 2005 Katherine Whitaker, University of Massachusetts, "An XMM-Newton Study of IC 10 and the Variable X-Ray Source X-1"
  • 2004 Sam Singer, Hampshire College, "Creation of the H.A.R.P. Observatory and Time-Series Differential Photometry of Ursae Majoris"
  • 2003 Adria Updike, Smith College, "How Twisted is the Sun: Calculation of Magnetic Helicity in a Force-Free Field"
  • 2002 Julie Nantais, University of Massachusetts, "Radio-FIR Correlation for Galactic HII Regions"
  • 2002 Jay Dickson, Hampshire College, "Water on Mars: A Synthesis of the Hydrologic Features on the Surface of Mars"
  • 2002 Kathryn M. Peek, Mount Holyoke College, "The Disruption of an Icy Satellite and the Evolution of the Resulting Debris Ring: A Formation Scenario for Saturn's Rings"
  • 2000 Jessica Bonjorni, Smith College, "Classification of the Enigmatic Variable XX Sct"


Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

To apply, visit: https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/

Authorized by Congress in 1986, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation honors Barry M. Goldwater, who served the United States for 56 years as a soldier and legislator. This is a merit-based $7,500 scholarship for sophomore and junior college students for use toward college tuition and expenses to pursue an academic career in the sciences or engineering. Students must be nominated by his or her college or university. Approximately 275 scholarships are awarded each year for the entire country.


  • 2022 Cailin Plunkett (Amherst College) 
  • 2021 Meredith Stone (UMass Amherst), Helena (Lena) Treiber (Amherst College)
  • 2020  Jea Adams (Amherst College)
  • 2019 Zoe Kearney (UMass Amherst), Kenneth Lin (UMass Amherst), Ryan McMillan (Amherst College), Olivia Cooper (Smith College)
  • 2015 Aaron Dunbrack
  • 2013 Marie Calapa


William F. Field Alumni Scholars

Application info will be added.

The William F. Field Alumni Scholars Program was established in 1976 by the UMass Alumni Association to recognize and honor third-year students for their academic achievements at UMass Amherst. The program was named in honor of William F. Field, the university’s first Dean of Students, for his outstanding support of academic excellence and his personal commitment to bringing out the best in every student. Nominations submitted by UMass Amherst Deans.


  • 2019 Kenneth Lin
  • 2015 Randall Rojas Bolivar
  • 2014 Kevin Harrington
  • 2013 Sean McElwee
  • 2012 Jamie Budynkiewicz & Mark Lodato
  • 2010 Ashley Bemis & Max Curran


UMass Amherst Rising Researcher Award

To apply, visit: https://www.umass.edu/researchnext/nominate-rising-researcher

UMass Amherst Rising Researcher student achievement award, sponsored by the Vice Chancellors for University Relations and Research Engagement, recognizes exceptional UMass Amherst undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity.


  • 2021 Kate Mallory 
  • 2014 Marie Calapa


The Lorna Peterson Prize

To apply, visit: https://www.fivecolleges.edu/lorna-peterson-prize

The Lorna M. Peterson Prize supports scholarly and creative work by undergraduate students taking part in a Five College program. The $500 prize is awarded annually based on nominations from Five College programs to a student who has demonstrated commitment to collaboration in their academic career.


  • 2022 Sierra Gomez
  • 2020 Jea Adams