By Whitney Hale
The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that seven doctoral students and alumni have been selected to receive government-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. In addition, four other UK students received honorable mention recognition from the NSF.
NSF Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees for a research-based master's or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) field. Annually, the NSF awards approximately 1,500 fellowships from an applicant pool of over 12,000.
"Receiving a GRFP award from NSF is an incredible honor," NSF Fellow Lauren Mehanna said. "The GRFP gives me more independence with my research project, as I will not have to rely on outside funding for support. It also gives me access to numerous other resources provided by NSF. I am looking forward to guiding my own research project in the direction of where my interests take me that hopefully will lead to significant discoveries in the chemical and biomedical engineering realms."
Awardees from the UK College of Engineering include:
- Rachel Boone, a 2019 UK chemical engineering graduate from Stanton, Kentucky, who will pursue research in chemical engineering at Vanderbilt University;
- Lauren Mehanna, a doctoral student from Lexington, pursuing research in chemical engineering at UK;
- Ava Vargason, a 2017 UK chemical engineering graduate, Lewis Honors College member and Chellgren Fellow from Iowa City, Iowa, pursuing research in pharmaceutical sciences at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and
- Stephen Wright, a 2019 UK mechanical engineering graduate and Lewis Honors College member from Nicholasville, Kentucky, who will pursue research in aerospace engineering at University of Michigan.
Tri Andrew Phan, a 2016 UK biosystems engineering graduate from Lexington pursuing research at University of California, Irvine and Mujan Seif, a UK doctoral student in materials engineering from West Bloomfield, Michigan received honorable mention recognition from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
The NSF GRFP is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program directly supporting graduate students since 1952. GRFP is a critical program in NSF's overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. A hallmark of GRFP is its contribution to increasing the diversity of the STEM workforce, including geographic distribution, as well as the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans.
UK students interested in the NSF GRFP may apply through the university's Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Student and Academic Life at UK, the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with Pat Whitlow well in advance of the scholarship deadline.