CORVALLIS - Oregon State University student Tyson Harty, a master's degree candidate in the College of Health and Human Performance, has received a prestigious three-year National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship of $76,500.
Harty came to OSU in 1998 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in zoology and ecology from Michigan State University. His studies at Oregon State have focused on human motor control and its applications for robotic limbs.
Working with OSU faculty member Gene Korienek, Harty also is part of a university research team that developed a "Mars pants" prototype. The inflatable pants are designed to help Mars-bound astronauts train for the planet's low-gravity conditions. The research was funded by NASA seed money.
Harty said he hopes to use the National Science Foundation grant to pursue a Ph.D. in bioengineering, with a research focus in space robotics and artificial prostheses.
"My interests are in understanding and integrating the complexity and efficiency of biological systems into mechanical ones to improve the understanding of both," Harty said.
Harty and Korienek were both at NASA's Ames Research Center in California before coming to Oregon State. Harty participated in NASA's Astrobiology Academy, a 10-week fellowship program designed to guide future leaders of the U.S. space program.
"Tyson is a remarkable young man," Korienek said. "He's packed more into a few short years than many people do in a lifetime."
Harty recently was notified that he had been accepted as a recipient of a Department of Defense fellowship valued at more than $76,000. He has declined the DOD fellowship in favor of the National Science Foundation grant. Recipients may only accept one major government grant.
The government grant offers haven't been the only awards Harty has received. In 1993, he was awarded the Michigan State University Alumni Distinguished Scholarship, a four-year full tuition award valued at $70,000. He also received nine other undergraduate scholarships totaling nearly $20,000.
In addition to his NASA studies, Harty has several academic interests. He spent 12 months in Kenya in 1995-96 supervising an NSF-sponsored research project on spotted hyenas. He also has worked as a research assistant in wildlife management and rehabilitation studies, and in veterinary medicine.
Harty, a native of Bloomington, Ind., is 23 years old.