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Jenna Zink and Rebekah Evans Frolov

During her NASA internship, Jenna Zink (seated), a physics major with dual minors in astronomy and Russian. studied space weather with Mason alumna Rebekah Evans Frolov at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Getting to Know Our Nearest Star

Jenna Zink credits her family for encouraging her love of science as a young child. She recalls her dad running from freezer to stove to show her how water changes from solid to vapor. They also instilled in her a passion for asking questions.

This quest for knowledge helped her earn a coveted scholarship from Mason’s University Scholars program, which pays the full cost of tuition for four years. An Honors College student, Zink also is part of the “Students as Scholars” initiative through Mason’s Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) and is an OSCAR fellow. She began her research with funding from Mason’s Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

I don’t want to just live my life. I want to know why. I want to know how.

Jenna Zink, Class of 2015

As a senior, she interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she studied weather patterns in space. She’s looking for “coronal mass ejections,” which are eruptions from the sun that hurtle toward the Earth at 300 to 3,000 kilometers per second. These gigantic bubbles released by the sun are the source of the gorgeous aurora borealis but also create havoc with our communications-dependent society.

NASA research fellow Rebekah Evans Frolov, her mentor at the NASA Solar Physics Lab, earned both her doctorate in physics and master’s in applied physics and engineering from George Mason.

“Mason has done wonders for me,” Zink says. “The doors that have opened are amazing.”

Her next stop? The University of Texas-San Antonio for a PhD.