NSF Graduate Research Fellows announced

Fri, 04/04/2014

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Roberta Pokphanh
Research and Graduate Studies
785-864-8040

LAWRENCE — Six students and alumni from the University of Kansas have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for 2014-2015. In addition, eight students and alumni have been recognized with honorable mentions in the competition.

"I’m excited and honored to receive the NSF Graduate Fellowship. A great aspect of this award is that it emphasizes innovation and creativity," said Jeremy Ims, doctoral student in aerospace engineering. "I’m interested in integrating ideas from math and the hard sciences to broaden the predictive power of aerospace-related computer simulation.”

Alex Erwin, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, said, “I had applied for this fellowship the year before but didn't receive the award the first time. I spent the next year gaining additional research experience, and that allowed me to strengthen my proposal. This research fellowship provides me with excellent opportunities for community outreach, professional development, as well as support to pursue my proposed research project, which examines the effects of the aging process on DNA modifiers in the germline and whether those changes are inherited and influence future generations.”

Regarded as one of the premier fellowship awards in the sciences, they provide a $32,000 stipend each year for three years of graduate study plus an allowance of $12,000 to the institution for educational expenses. Each year, the fellowship program receives more than 13,000 applications and awards for approximately 2,000 fellowships. NSF fellowships are intended for individuals in the early stages of graduate study.

Graduate Studies and the Center for Undergraduate Research co-host an NSF fellowship application workshop each fall.

“Strong applications for the NSF fellowship require a great deal of effort. Constructive feedback on application materials is key to a competitive application,” said Jennifer Gleason, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, who teaches a seminar each year on the application process.

“All of the KU undergraduate students who competed for this fellowship have had an undergraduate research experience,” said John Augusto, assistant vice provost for the Center for Undergraduate Research. “KU has a strong tradition of attracting high-ability undergraduate students who complete research experiences with faculty. Our students are very competitive for this national fellowship.”

The awardees and honorable mentions are listed below with their program (and, for graduate student awardees, their faculty adviser and research focus).

NSF fellowship recipients:

  • Stephen Baca, of Albuquerque, N.M.; master’s student in ecology & evolutionary biology; faculty adviser, Andrew Short
  • Alexandra Erwin, of Ozark, Mo.; doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology; faculty adviser, Justin Blumenstiel
  • Jeremy Ims, of Overland Park; doctoral student in aerospace engineering; faculty adviser, Z.J. Wang
  • Kevin Song, of Lawrence; bachelor’s recipient in chemical engineering
  • Jason Stevens, of Wichita; bachelor’s recipient in mathematics
  • William VanSkike, of Norman, Okla.; master’s student in aerospace engineering; faculty adviser, Rick Hale.

Honorable mentions:

  • Jason Bates, of Overland Park, bachelor’s student in chemical engineering
  • Lauren Beesley, of Overland Park, bachelor’s recipient in mathematics
  • Kimberly Box, of Wichita, bachelor’s recipient in biology
  • Lauren Covey, of Phoenix, doctoral student in linguistics
  • Erin Diel, of Overland Park, bachelor’s recipient in biology
  • Carla Fernandez, of Lawrence, bachelor’s recipient in biology
  • Justin Mann, of Kansas City, Mo., doctoral student in physics
  • Kathryn Scherich, of Emporia, bachelor’s student in chemical engineering.


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