Lizeth Magaña is one of three alumni who have been chosen as the Outstanding Recent Graduates for 2023. To qualify, nominees must have earned a degree from Emporia State University within the past 10 years. Awards will be presented to these recipients on Friday, Oct. 27, at the Black & Gold Gala during Homecoming weekend:

Lizeth Magaña, who received her bachelor of science with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics in 2016, is a planetary research scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). For more than 80 years, the lab has provided the government with innovative solutions for complex national security and space exploration challenges, according to the Johns Hopkins website.

She received the award from the Emporia State University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. During her studies at ESU, Magaña was involved in student service and outreach activities such as the Society of Physics Students, Enhancing Your Future and Si Se Puede, which translates to “Yes, it can be done.”

While conducting research at the Southwest Research Institute, she received master of science and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Texas at San Antonio while continuing public outreach engagement with Astronomy on Tap. As a graduate student, she was chosen for a prestigious Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science Technology fellowship to study potential ice at the Moon’s south pole as part of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. This research contributes to finding suitable landing sites for future crewed/robotic missions to the Moon. She continues this research at APL, while also leading laboratory investigations of lunar soil analogs alongside high school interns, and leading research on liquid methane river channels on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Magaña shares her research findings with the public, which she has done since she was a student at ESU. Dr. Magaña is first author or contributing author for nine peer-reviewed publications and more are in development. She has also presented ~20 scientific presentations and been received best student presentation awards.

“Dr. Lizeth Magaña’s research and professional service contributions are numerous, given the current stage of her career,” said Dr. Jorge Ballester, ESU professor of physics who nominated Magaña for the award.“