18 new NSF graduate researchers join the ranks at Penn State

August 31, 2020

Eighteen students were named National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recipients for the 2020-21 academic year. These 18 students join 65 prior recipients continuing in the University’s graduate degree programs through the Graduate School in the Eberly College of Science, College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Health and Human Development, and the College of the Liberal Arts, as well as, the Intercollege Graduate Degree Programs.

The NSF program supports outstanding graduate students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines; those in STEM education and learning research; and those in social and behavioral sciences, who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees.

The 2020-21 class of new fellows at the University are:

  • Jeremy Diaz, doctoral student in geography;       
  • Laura Jones, doctoral student in ecology;
  • Philip King, doctoral student in mechanical engineering;
  • Katelyn Kirchner, doctoral student in material sciences and engineering;
  • Ella Mullikin, doctoral student in chemistry;
  • Gautam Nagaraj, doctoral student in astronomy and astrophysics;
  • Chen Cornelia Osborne, doctoral student in biology;
  • Karen Pham, doctoral student in geosciences;
  • Eric Rokni, doctoral student in acoustics;
  • Patrick Rondomanski, doctoral student in material sciences and engineering;
  • Samuel Stull, doctoral student in biobehavioral health;
  • Edmundo Torres-Gonzalez, doctoral student in bioinformatics and genomics;
  • Nicholas Trainor, doctoral student in materials sciences and engineering;
  • Nicholas Tusay, doctoral student in astronomy and astrophysics;
  • Megan Veltri, doctoral student in anthropology;
  • Rebecca Welch, doctoral student in material sciences and engineering;
  • Caylon Yates, doctoral student in ecology; and
  • Autumn Zender, doctoral student in physics.

According to the NSF website, “as the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers.” The website states that, “fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.”

The GRFP annual program solicitation was released in July and is available on the NSF website. Applications are accepted via Fastlane, the NSF's official online information and business transaction center. Application deadlines begin in late October and vary depending on the field of study.

NSF-supported fields of study include: chemistry, computer and information science and engineering, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, materials research, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, psychology, social sciences, and STEM education and learning research.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Evelyn Abraham, doctoral student in plant biology;     
  • Vivek Anil, bachelor’s student in physics and engineering science
  • Muhammed Cifci, doctoral student in political science;
  • Angela Cleri, doctoral student in materials science and engineering;
  • Joseph Colosimo, doctoral student in astronomy and astrophysics;
  • Kara Dobson, bachelor’s student in biology;
  • Keenan Eure, doctoral student in meteorology and atmospheric science;
  • Margaret Gerthoffer, doctoral student in chemistry;
  • Arvind Gupta, doctoral student in astrobiology, astronomy and astrophysics;
  • Jeremy Held, doctoral student in plant biology;
  • Emily Howerton, doctoral student in biology;
  • Makenna Lenover, doctoral student in anthropology;
  • Doua Jim Lor, master’s student in ecology;
  • Catherine Mendel, doctoral student in anthropology;
  • Naomi Niyah, doctoral student in molecular, cellular, and integrative biosciences;
  • Collin Oborn, doctoral student in geosciences;
  • Lauren Paschall, doctoral student in bioengineering;
  • Ele Saltmarsh, doctoral student in agronomy;
  • Dylan Schoemaker, bachelor’s student in plant sciences;
  • Mary Jean Smith, doctoral student in plant pathology;
  • Joseph Tomlinson, doctoral student in astronomy and astrophysics; and
  • Elizabeth Youatt, doctoral student in psychology.

For additional information on the NSF GRFP, contact the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards Administration at gsfellowships@psu.edu or 814-865-2514.

Last Updated August 31, 2020