Scotch Plains Woman Lives Out Childhood Dream by Working at NASA

Kacie Bumiller of Scotch Plains is one of just 32 college students across the country selected to participate in the NASA SARP program this summer. Credits: NASA SARP (Courtesy of Christine Bumiller)
Kacie Bumiller will spend eight weeks studying alongside NASA scientists and program engineers. Credits: Christine Bumiller
Bumiller flew in the C-23 Sherpa during data collection activities. Data will be used as part of a research project later in the program. Credits: NASA SARP (Courtesy of Christine Bumiller)
Bumiller took a turn in the pilot seat before taking off on the data collection flight. Credits: NASA SARP (Courtesy of Christine Bumiller)
Students toured NASA facilities as an introduction to the program. Credits: NASA SARP (Courtesy of Christine Bumiller)

PALMDALE, CA - One young Scotch Plains woman is living her childhood dream this summer, taking to the skies while working at NASA.

Kacie Bumiller, a 2014 Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School graduate and rising senior at the University of South Carolina, is one of just 32 students from across the nation selected to participate in NASA’s  Student Airborne Research Program (SARP).   

“It has been a non-stop, amazing experience,” Bumiller said. “It's been a dream of mine to see NASA inside, up close. There is so much to learn, and I am going to make the most of my time here. I am so thankful for the opportunity.”

Sign Up for E-News

The eight-week program is hosted at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California in conjunction with the University of California Irvine. Students work alongside NASA program managers, scientists and engineers, gathering data to be used in a study examining the effects of drought on vegetation and ocean biology along the California coast.

“I flew in the C-23 Sherpa, collecting whole air samples, as well as measuring levels of ozone, nitric oxide, and greenhouse gasses,” Bumiller said. “It's exciting to get hands-on experience on an airborne lab, even though the plane can get hot and very turbulent.”

The C-23 Sherpa is one of two flying laboratories used in the program.  The students then conduct ground experiments in Santa Barbara, Joshua Tree National Park, Sedgwick Reserve and Sequoia National Forest.

After completing data collection, each student develops a research project that will be presented to a panel of NASA experts. Often student projects will then be presented at a national conference.

According to Bumiller’s mother, Christine Bumiller, Kacie’s interest in NASA began long ago.

“Ten years ago, we visited NASA in Florida,” Christine Bumiller said. “Kacie bought a NASA key chain (which she still has) and said, ‘I think it would be cool to work here.’ And now she is!”

The 32 students participating in the program represent 31 universities from 21 different states and were selected from hundreds of applicants based on academic performance, future career plans and their interest in Earth science. Bumiller is studying chemical engineering.

“I am so fortunate for this opportunity to explore the airborne science field and to meet NASA scientists and administrators from around the country,” Bumiller said. is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Wed, June 20, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Story Makers

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, June 20, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

The Masterwork Chorus Launches 19th Summer Sing ...

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, June 23, 12:00 PM

Rushmore Pool, Plainfield

Pool Openings: Rushmore

Community Calendar Sports

Local at-risk youth celebrate year of achievements at Community Access Unlimited

June 18, 2018

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) last night celebrated the achievements of a number of at-risk youth who are members of the agency's Transitional Opportunities Program (TOP). Each of these youth are within New Jersey's child services system and faced a number of life challenges before coming to CAU and TOP and since then have made significant progress in plotting a brighter future with ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...


June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)


I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...