Two Florida Tech Students Named 2020 Astronaut Scholars

Chloe Klare, Samantha Pryor Receive Prestigious Honor

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech seniors Chloe Klare and Samantha Pryor have been named 2020 Astronaut Scholars, the prestigious recognition from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation that signifies they are among the best and brightest STEM students in the country.

Klare, a double major in astronomy/astrophysics and mathematical sciences, and Pryor, an astrobiology major, are two of just 56 Astronaut Scholars from 41 different U.S. universities comprising the 2020 class. They will receive scholarships, a paid trip to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Innovators Weekend, and opportunities for ongoing engagement with astronauts, Astronaut Scholar alumni, and the Foundation.

“Winning the astronaut scholarship is really exciting for me because so many of the former Astronaut Scholars are now amazing and successful scientists and engineers,” Klare said. “The fact that the Foundation picked me makes me feel like I can achieve really cool things in my future career, too.”

“Receiving this scholarship means I’m one step closer to achieving my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, and that I must be doing something right,” Pryor said.

Both recipients have been doing plenty right during their time at Florida Tech.

Klare has spent the last two years working on a research project about Jupiter’s atmosphere with Csaba Palotai, associate professor and program chair of physics and space sciences.

“This work is really challenging because the work that she needs to do is really at senior undergrad or graduate student level with a fairly steep learning curve,” Palotai said in his letter of recommendation to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Chloe has been doing an excellent job and she is a major contributor to that project, which is highly unusual for a junior student for this type of work.”

This summer, Klare has been at the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergrads at Northwestern University, where her project centers on neutrinos and astro-particle physics.

And she was recently elected president of the Student Astronomical Society for the 2020-21 school year.

Pryor has also been active with research across multiple labs. For the past 2 ½ years she has been in Jeremy Riousset’s planetary geosciences lab, helping create a three-dimensional topographical and crustal remanent magnetic field model of Mars. Currently, she is doing research in Andrew Palmer’s chemical ecology and astrobiology lab, where her project involves using the Arabidopsis thaliana plant as a model organism to study the effects of quorum-sensing molecules on root growth. Starting in the fall, Pryor plans to participate in Manasvi Lingam’s astrobiology lab.

Pryor’s excellence at Florida Tech has garnered her multiple awards, including the Distinguished Student Scholar Award and the Federal Work-Study Student Employee of the Year Award for 2018-19. She was awarded Outstanding Undergraduate Poster Presentation at the Florida Academy of Sciences’ 83rd Annual Meeting.

“Samantha is one of the brightest, most broadly interested and most proactive students I have met,” Markus Wilde, assistant professor in aerospace engineering, said in his letter of recommendation. “She is driven by the desire and joy of learning, investigating, and discovering new things, both in biology and physics.”

Since its inception more than 35 years ago, Orlando-based ASF has awarded over $5 million in scholarships to more than 600 of the nation’s top scholars. For more information about the Astronaut Scholars program, visit


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