A stunning view of deep space featuring a spiral galaxy with a bright core surrounded by swirling arms of stars and cosmic dust. The scene is filled with a rich array of colors, including blues, purples, and hints of pink, creating a vibrant, otherworldly atmosphere. Numerous stars are scattered across the image, twinkling against the dark backdrop of space. The image captures the vastness and beauty of the cosmos, with intricate details of nebulae and star clusters adding depth and dimension.

Joshua Bardwell

2024 Seed Grant Awardee

Project Description

NCCN Symposium

The image is an announcement for a funded project titled "NASA Community College Symposium”. It highlights that the project is focused on hosting a community college event to promote STEM degree pathways. The image features logos from NASA SCoPE (Connecting SMEs and SciAct), NASA Community College Network, Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration, and NASA Partner. It mentions Joshua Bardwell and Margo Thornton, graduate researchers from San Diego State University, as the leads on this project. There is a picture of an outer space phenomena. The word "FUNDED" is prominently stamped across the image.

The NASA Community College Symposium event involves a symposium panel of scientists from industry (e.g., NASA Goddard) and academia with a Q&A and breakout sessions / interactive workshops. We intend on advertising this event at local community colleges / high schools in the San Diego area and on campus at San Diego State University, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups. Given that 75% of our panel has come from a community college background, our intent is to show that a career in STEM is obtainable. Our hope is that this pilot event will become an annual event which establishes community and relationships for those within the San Diego Community College and 4-year university system.

Target Audience Age


NASA Division

Astro icon


Grant Status

Learning Context

digital learning enabled

Digital Learning

Home and family enabled

Neighborhood /

Informal out of school disabled

Informal /
Out of School

Home and Families disabled

Home / Family

citizen science disabled

Citizen Science

formal education enabled

Formal Education


Bardwell Bio Photo

What excites me most about this project is getting the opportunity to communicate niche areas of NASA science to the public.

Joshua Bardwell NCCN Symposium Co-PI

Joshua Bardwell

NCCN Symposium Co-PI
Master's Student
San Diego State University

Joshua Bardwell is a 2nd year master’s student in Astronomy at San Diego State University. His research is with NASA GSFC on gravitational waves of binary black holes with extreme mass ratios. As a biracial individual of Pacific Islander descent, he recognizes the importance of intentional diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within the academic environment. His diverse background drives him to engage with the scientific community and create avenues for success within the fields of STEM. He is also an Astro-graphic designer, data visualizer, and community outreach specialist. His extracurricular interests include competitive spike ball, surfing, and songwriting!

SciAct Team

NCCN logo

NCCN Description

The NASA Community College Network (NCCN) at the SETI Institute proposes an initiative to bring NASA science subject matter experts (SMEs) and NASA science resources into the classrooms of the nation’s community college system. There are over 1000 U.S. public, accredited, degree-granting two-year institutions in the U.S. and of these, over 700 offer courses in astronomy, often to students from under-served populations, many of them the first in their families to go to college at all.

Simon bio photo

NCCN’s goal is to inspire community college students through their interaction with NASA subject matter experts. What better inspiration than hearing first hand from subject matter experts whose own journeys into astronomy began at community college!

Simon Steel, PhD NCCN PI