NASA named an asteroid after a researcher as a recognition for her efforts in botany research. The asteroid is called Al-Sheikh 33535, named after Fatima bint Abdel Moneim Al Sheikh in the honor of her research entitled “Determining The Effect Of The Novel Carl 2 Strigolactone Analog On The Seed Germination of Parasitic Weeds”.
Fatima, who was a second runner-up for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in 2016 had took home $1,500 and later received the recognition by NASA. Intel ISEF is held annually by the Society for Science & The Public that attracts approximately 1,800 high school students from around the globe to compete in the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
Al-Sheikh was invited to the ISEF after winning the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, a yearly event hosted by the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness & Creativity along with the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia.
At 19, she has been awarded nationally and internationally as well as having an asteroid named after her. Fatima plans to continue her study at Brown University.
This is not the first time NASA named an asteroid after a young scientist. In 2016, two students were honored by NASA in recognition of their achievements. NASA named a minor planet: Abu-Alshaikh 28831, after a Jordanian student, Salahaldeen Ibrahim Abu-Alshaikh, for his research in mathematics that granted him a second place at the Intel ISEF in 2013. The 31926 Alhamood asteroid was named by NASA after a Saudi student Abdul Jabbar Abdulrazaq Alhamood after he had won first place at the Intel ISEF in 2015 for plant science. Yasmin Yehia Moustafa was chosen by NASA to have an asteroid named after her as well when she got the first place title in 2015’s Intel ISEF for her earth and environmental sciences project. All of the competitors are younger than twenty years.