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KU students, alumni earn National Science Foundation Fellowships

Wed, 04/17/2013

LAWRENCE — Thirteen students and alumni from the University of Kansas have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for 2013-14.

These current and former Jayhawks will build upon their experiences doing undergraduate research at KU to pursue graduate degrees at prestigious universities across the country. 

Regarded as one of the premier awards in the sciences, the fellowships provide a $30,000 stipend each year for three years of graduate study plus an allowance of $10,500 to the institution for educational expenses. Each year, the Fellowship program receives more than 13,000 applications and awards approximately 2,000 fellowships. An additional 1,800 students receive honorable mentions.

“When the committee reviews applications, one of the key factors is a high-quality undergraduate research experience,” said Jennifer Gleason, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. She said the award is a great honor that “frees the student to concentrate on his or her research and participate in outreach to the public.” Gleason, as an NSF-designated resource person, has served on the fellowship review panel and teaches a class for students interested in applying for the fellowship.

“All of the KU students who received the fellowship this year had a strong undergraduate research experience,” said John Augusto, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. “KU has a strong tradition of attracting students who complete undergraduate research, in large part because many faculty mentors are active in getting students involved with research, and there are a number of campus programs that support and guide students through a research experience.”

One of the students who received a fellowship was Sarah Bregman, a senior from Lindsborg majoring in East Asian languages and literature, who credits her success to the outstanding advising she received from Professor John Kennedy, director of the Center for Global & International Studies.

“I discussed my interest in the Jeju Naval Base in South Korea, and Professor Kennedy helped me to develop a cohesive research question, as well as a methodological and theoretical framework to pursue my research interest,” said Bregman. “Professor Kennedy provided me with resources from one of the methods classes he teaches here at KU to help me get started, and I tried to complete as much of my research as possible before my daughter was born. I officially began my McNair Scholars Program summer research internship two weeks after I gave birth to my daughter. I absolutely would not have been able to complete this project without Professor Kennedy's flexibility, patience, encouragement and excellent advising.”

NSF fellowships are intended for individuals in the early stages of graduate study. Fellows must be working on research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in the mathematical, physical, biological, behavioral or social sciences; engineering; the history of science; the philosophy of science; or research-based doctoral degrees in science education. For this highly competitive award, applicants must submit research proposals, which are reviewed by expert scientists in their field. NSF fellowship recipients, as well as honorable mentions, represent the best among young scientists in the United States.

The students or alumni listed below received an NSF fellowship. They are listed below along with some of their accomplishments while at KU.  The Center for Undergraduate works with KU faculty and students to support and enhance undergraduate research. The Center oversees the Research Experience Certification. The University Honors Program oversees Phi Beta Kappa and the University Honors designation. The Office for Diversity in Science Training oversees the IMSD scholar program, and the McNair Scholars program oversees the McNair Scholars.

  • Sarah Jo Bregman, of Lindsborg: McNair Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa. She is a current student in East Asian languages and literature.
  • Joshua Thomas Dean, of Overland Park: Global Scholar, University Honors, Phi Beta Kappa. He is a current student in economics.
  • Emily Diane Hooker, of Andover: University Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, McNair Scholar, Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in psychology.
  • Anthony Matthias Johnson, of Kansas City: McNair Scholar, Research Experience Certification. He completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in sociology.
  • Patrick Jerome Miller, of Hutchinson: McNair Scholar, University Honors, Research Experience Certification. He completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in psychology.
  • Deena Rennerfeldt, of Lawrence: IMSD Scholar. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in chemical engineering.
  • Molly Stanley, of Iola: Phi Beta Kappa, Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in biology.
  • Adela Timmons, of Lawrence: University Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in psychology.
  • Rodolfo Matias Torres, of Lawrence: IMSD Scholar, University Honors, Goldwater Scholar. He is a current student in chemistry.
  • Matthew Aaron Williams, of Kansas City, Kan.: University Honors, Research Experience Certification. He completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in aerospace engineering.
  • Chloe Wooldridge, of Richardson, Texas. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in civil engineering.
  • Heather Marie Wurtz, of Kansas City, Kan.: University Honors, Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in anthropology.
  • Kyle Young, of Denver: University Honors. He completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in chemistry.

In addition, the students or alumni listed below earned honorable mentions:

  • Cassidy Carpenter, of Topeka: Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in psychology.
  • Erin Diel, of Overland Park: University Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in biology.
  • Rhea Richardson, of Topeka: IMSD Scholar, Research Experience Certification. She completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in biology.
  • Jason Stevens, of Wichita: He completed a bachelor’s degree from KU in mathematics.


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