Undergrad Neha Sangana named Brooke Owens Fellow

March 3, 2020

Mechanical engineering sophomore Neha Sangana has been preparing to launch her space career for some time. She became hooked on stargazing when she got her first telescope at just seven years old. Years later – thanks to an enduring interest and plenty of hard work – Sangana has landed a coveted fellowship that will set her on a trajectory to her dream job.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program, founded in 2016, awards paid internships and mentorship opportunities to exceptional undergraduate women seeking careers in the aerospace field.  This year, Sangana was one of only 40 women selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants, representing 15 countries. As part of the fellowship, she will participate in a 12-week, paid summer internship at Bryce Space and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia.

This marks the third consecutive year that a Johns Hopkins mechanical engineering student has been awarded a Brooke Owens Fellowship.

“When I first started at Johns Hopkins, I had to decide between two departments related to space – physics or mechanical engineering. I ultimately chose mechanical engineering with an aerospace concentration because I realized I’d have the chance to build things. I like that you can be creative with engineering projects,” said Sangana, who hails from Austin, Texas.

Besides space, Sangana is drawn to another challenging field – medicine. In addition to loading up on pre-med coursework, she works as a clinical research assistant at the Johns Hopkins Neuropsychiatry Clinic, focusing on neurodegenerative disease.

Luckily, Sangana sees plenty of opportunities to pursue her interests in medicine, space, and engineering. In fact, she’s found an arena that merges all three: aerospace medicine. Aerospace medicine is a discipline concerned with the many challenges facing humans engaged in space exploration and other aviation activities. For now, Sangana says she is focused on attending medical school to practice emergency and trauma medicine. Down the road, however, she imagines herself transitioning from the traditional clinical setting to supporting space missions as an aerospace physician.

Sangana is a team lead for JHU Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), where she organizes regular “star parties” and telescope training for fellow space enthusiasts.  She serves as an editor for the Johns Hopkins News-Letter, is a member of the Hindu Students Council, and dances with the Blue Jay Bhangra team.

Despite a packed schedule, Sangana still found time to apply for a 2020 Brooke Owens Fellowship, at the suggestions of SEDS president and fellow “Brookie” Lindsey Wiser. The rigorous application process involved three essays and several rounds of interviews with Brooke Owens alumni and sponsor companies.

Sangana is excited to see what her summer internship will hold. More importantly, she’s eager to join a tight-knit community of talented women who are just as passionate about space as she is.

“The program is more than just an internship. I’m looking forward to the mentorship aspect of being a Brooke Owens Fellow,” added Sangana. “The program will introduce me to women who are actually working in aerospace medicine. I want to learn how they got there.”


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