Monika Karki and Nibuna Subashchandar, Space Science students.
Monika Karki and Nibuna Subashchandar, Space Science students.

Students from the College of Science, home of the Department of Space Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a part of the University of Alabama System, had an exceptional summer experience through the International Space Weather Camp (ISWC) internship. This unique program provided a transformative opportunity for aspiring space scientists, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange among students and researchers from diverse backgrounds and nations.

Monika Karki, an international student from Nepal, and Nibuna Subashchandar, an international student from India, were among the participants immersed in the opportunities presented by the ISWC program.

Karki, who completed her master's in Nepal, ventured to the U.S. to pursue her Ph.D. in Space Science at UAH. Her previous research in the lower atmosphere ignited her curiosity to explore the realm of space physics. Monika found the space weather class particularly captivating because it provided valuable insights into atmospheric phenomena on multiple planets.

"My father played a crucial role in shaping my path," Karki reflects, acknowledging how her civil engineer father encouraged her to question and explore how things work. His constant support and emphasis on studying science left a lasting impact on her. Eager to share her story with other students interested in the field, Monika advises them to explore the vast and fascinating world of space science and seek guidance from all possible sources to discover areas of study that align with their interests.

Subashchandar, equally passionate about space science, was captivated by solar science, especially auroras, during his high school years, which led him to pursue this passion. Subashchandar's journey to UAH began when he saw a poster about the American Astronomical Society naming UAH. Intrigued, he connected with Dr. Gary Zank, the program's Chair, on LinkedIn, who inspired him to join the program.

"I have always been deeply fascinated by solar science," Subashchandar shares. "When I was younger, I would watch 'Cosmos' on the Discovery channel. It mesmerized me to see how vast the universe is and the incredible phenomena that happen beyond our eyes."

The International Space Weather Camp (ISWC) internship brought together students and advisors from various countries, including South Africa and Germany, offering a unique learning experience in space physics. Before arriving in Huntsville, the participants spent two weeks in South Africa, working with space weather researchers and conducting research projects.

The ISWC program, initiated in 2011, aims to foster a deeper understanding of space physics, particularly the impact of the sun on Earth's space and upper atmosphere, and its significance for modern society's technological systems.

Throughout the ISWC internship, students engaged in lectures, hands-on projects, experiments, and excursions, immersing themselves in both the theoretical principles and practical applications of space weather and solar and space physics. Both Karki and Subashchandar are excited about the transformative knowledge and experiences they are gaining at UAH and determined to contribute to the ever-evolving field of space science.