The Kalpana Chawla Scholarship

common dolphins

(above photo: Common dolphins swimming near the surface. © Carl Safina)

The purpose of this Fund is to give financial support to students and naturalists in honor of Kalpana Chawla. The Safina Center offers the Kalpana Chawla “Spirit of Columbia” Scholarship to one or more deserving students or naturalists whose area of work broadens our understanding of, or helps solve, an important conservation issue.

Scholarship History

This scholarship is named in honor of the dynamic, nature-loving astronaut who perished aboard the Columbia Space Shuttle in 2003.  She chose Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean as one of the few personal belongings to accompany her in space.

While on that mission, in a personal email, she asserted that upon her return, she would meet Safina and devote herself to conservation. The remains of Kalpana’s copy of the book, recovered by NASA from the debris field, are enshrined in The Safina Center’s headquarters — a reminder that the power of passionate words can quite literally encircle the Earth.

A year after her death, her family and friends established the Kalpana Chawla Spirit of Columbia Fund at The Safina Center.  Proceeds from the fund allow us to offer scholarships annually to graduate students who are passionate about the ocean and dedicated to studying a pressing marine issue.

The Safina Center is honored to commemorate Ms. Chawla’s adventurous, courageous spirit by directly encouraging young marine scientists in their studies.

Dive deep down
An aim awaits
Pearls peep – for your hands to reach
Just yours
For years, decades and ages
A door lies locked
A pearl in the shell
A secret in the brain
Open it
Break it
Reveal it
Fly High.

—Kalpana Chawla, in a birthday card to her sister