Sara Richardson
Sara Phillips Richardson provided operations support for MSU's SpaceTrek summer camp. SpaceTrek is a partnership of MSU, the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics and the American Association of University Women for girls entering 10th grade who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Graduates of Morehead State go on to work in a diverse range of professions in locations all over the world. Eagle alum Sara Phillips Richardson (14) is soaring to new heights in the aerospace industry thanks to the education she received at Morehead State.  

A native of Morehead, Richardson was the only woman in her cohort when she was earning her master’s degree in space systems engineering in 2016 and the first woman to earn the degree from MSU. She currently works at the Space Dynamic Laboratory (SDL) in North Logan, Utah, as a multidisciplinary systems engineer. At SDL, Richardson supports teams in the design, assembly and testing of satellite technologies. She works with the Department of Defense, as well as other areas of industry for national security.

Richardson earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with an area of concentration in pre-physical therapy from MSU. She says she chose MSU because of the biology program’s strong reputation in Kentucky and the school’s low student-to-teacher ratio.  

“I was in classes where professors knew me and knew my name, and I wasn’t just one of 500 students in an auditorium,” Richardson said. 

After earning her undergraduate degree, Richardson decided to take her education in a different direction by earning her master’s in space systems engineering. Although the transition from biology to engineering was a difficult one, Richardson said she found a mentor in Dr. Ben Malphrus, executive director of MSU’s Space Science Center.  

“Dr. Malphrus offered a lot of guidance, assistance, motivation and encouragement as I transitioned from biology coursework to engineering,” Richardson said, adding that what she learned at MSU gave her an edge when she entered the job market thanks to the hands-on experience she had with CubeSats, small orbital satellites that are roughly the size of a loaf of bread.  

“The hands-on work with CubeSats allows for the application of the concepts you’ve learned,” she said, pointing out that MSU’s program afforded her multiple opportunities for professional networking and interactions with industry professionals.

“I can almost 100 percent attribute my success as an adult and a professional to my time at MSU. My career opportunities have been directly impacted by what I learned while I was at Morehead State.”  -[Sara Phillips Richardson]

Although engineering is traditionally a male-dominated field, Richardson said things are changing as more and more women enter STEM fields. She offered some advice to young women who are interested in studying and working in STEM fields.  

“Stay committed to your dreams and aspirations,” she said. “Don’t be deterred by being a minority. It will be difficult, but out of that difficulty, you’ll experience a lot of personal growth. Just do it!” 

For more information about MSU’s programs in space science, visit