Five UT Students Win Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

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From developing cheap biofuels to determining when people became monogamous, the research of some UT graduate students has gotten a boost from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Five students have received 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

The recipients are:

  • Lauren Breza, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology, from Tallahassee, Florida. She is exploring how sustainable land use practices influence carbon emissions within the ecosystem. Breza received her undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from UT.
  • Madelyn Crawford, a senior graduating this spring with a degree in honors biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, from Knoxville. Crawford plans to examine the effect of microbes that live in mammals’ guts on the function of the hosts’ immune systems. She will be enrolled in the immunology and molecular pathogenesis PhD program at Emory University.
  • Rachel Forvargue, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology, from Harrisonburg, Virginia. Her research will inform policies and strategies for natural resource management for the marine protected areas on the Great Barrier Reef system. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the College of William and Mary.
  • Kelly Rooker, a doctoral candidate in mathematics, from Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is using mathematical models to discover when humans started coupling and uncover previously unseen evolution in early humans. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics from Bridgewater College.
  • Hannah Woo, a doctoral candidate in environmental engineering, from San Francisco, California. She is investigating how plant material broken down by ocean bacteria can be used to make cheaper biofuel. She received her bachelor’s degree in molecular environmental biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Each will receive $30,000 over the next year along with a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees and opportunities for international research and professional development.

Jeremy Blaschke, a graduate student in systematic biology; Brian Looney, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology; Kathryn Massana, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology; Emily Morin, a graduate student in mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering; Quentin Read, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology; Jordan Sawyer, a graduate student in mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering; and Katlyn Stiles, a graduate student in anthropology, received honorable mentions.

The NSF’s fellowship program—the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind—aims to ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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