National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Andrew J. Abraham

dscn0302Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA
Ph.D. in Physics, expected 2014

Moravian College
Bethlehem, PA
B.S. in Physics, May 2009
B.A. in Economics, May 2009

NASA Academy Research Project:
Device Development for NASA Space Communications Applications/Novel Power Combiner for Solid State Power Amplifiers

Principal Investigator:
Edwin G. Wintucky


If you ask my friends and family what my favorite topic of discussion is, they would all tell you that it has to be “physics.” I have been drawn to the sciences and mathematics since I was a child, and have always demonstrated and aptitude for them. In high school I was exposed to the study of physics for the first time. I became quite fond of physics’ ability to describe nature in the most fundamental ways possible. The appeal of such an intimate and fundamental understanding of nature spurred me on to further study in college.

As my knowledge of physics increased, I would often think about ways in which I could apply the concepts learned in the lab to real world situations. I found that it is often better to “guide nature” when accomplishing your goals rather than fighting against it. This is where a deep understanding of the laws of physics becomes very important. If you want to truly accomplish your goals, however, it is not merely enough to have an understanding of the laws of nature; one must also understand the tendencies of man.

I realized that any truly successful technology not only worked in a technical sense, but that it also must work in an economic sense. Any technology, no matter how elegant or awe inspiring, cannot be sustained without solid economic incentives. With this perspective in mind, I seek ways to develop technologies which are viable both technologically and economically. If you really want to get a job done, the technology must both work well and be practical.

Work Experience, Research, and Hobbies

My first research experience occurred a few years ago when I began an internship with Specialty Minerals Inc. My main area of research concerned the study of paper physics. Believe it or not, paper itself can be quite complex if studied at a fundamental level. Specifically, the interactions between the paper fibers and the calcium carbonate (paper whitener) can cause the properties of paper to vary significantly. Learning to control the bonding of various ingredients proved to be very critical in engineering quality paper products at a competitive price.
Recently, I completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) experience at Lehigh University where I studied topics concerning statistical and thermal physics. I was particularly interested in the microstructure of various metal alloys and how that structure was influenced by heat. Of particular importance to my research was the modeling of small crystallites (metallurgists call them ‘grains’) which are semi-randomly distributed throughout the amorphous portion of an alloy. It is believed that the exact size and size distribution of these crystallites can influence the thermophysical properties of metallic alloys.

For the past few years I have been working for the physics department at Moravian College. My job varies from fixing lab equipment, to assisting students, to grading weekly quizzes. I have also had some experience in the IT department at my college where I would assist in the administration of computer networks. In the distant past, some of my non-technical work experiences rangea from being a maintenance man on a local golf course to cashiering at a small gas station.

In my free time I like to engage in various outdoor activities which range from hunting and fishing, to camping and backpacking. I often like to play around with electronics projects as well as teach myself new computer languages. I also am very active in my local church as I often volunteer my services as an audio-visual technician.

Educational and Professional Objectives

In the early fall I plan on heading back to PA to continue my education at Lehigh University where I will pursue a Ph.D. in physics. Upon the completion of this degree I would like to work in the aerospace industry developing new technologies that are in high demand. I have a particular interest in developing the emerging private space industry into a fully matured market. This would include both manned and unmanned spaceflight technologies.