Eight current or former students have been recognized by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, as 2014 Graduate Research Fellows and three students received honorable mention. This marks the largest number of students ever awarded the fellowship from LSU in a single year.
“We send our congratulations to our current and former students who have been recognized with this prestigious national fellowship,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “STEM research has never been more important, and we applaud our students’ commitment to studying science, technology, engineering and math. Having the largest number of students ever recognized from LSU is another reminder of the high quality students and research taking place at the university.”
The following students and recent graduates received the prestigious award, an exceptional honor for the students, their faculty mentors and the university itself:
Julie Butler, a native of College Station, Texas: received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student in biology in the College of Science
Nickholas Grant, a native of Baker: received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences in December 2013, participated in the Ronald E. McNair Research Scholar program and is attending graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Camryn Johnson, a native of Baton Rouge: currently enrolled in biological engineering in the College of Engineering and will attend graduate school at Vanderbilt
Corey Landry, a native of Denham Springs: received a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from the College of Engineering in May 2014, was a member of the LSU Honors College and a LA-STEM Research Scholar, is pursuing a master’s degree in biological and agricultural engineering at LSU and plans to attend Harvard afterward
Alexander Leder, a native of Baton Rouge: received bachelor’s degrees in physics and math from the College of Science in May 2012, was a member of the LSU Honors College and is attending graduate school at MIT
Elissa Ledoux, a native of Baton Rouge: received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering in May 2013 and is attending graduate school at Vanderbilt
Shelby Pursley, a native of Winter Springs, Fla.: received a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering from the College of Engineering in May 2014, was a member of the LSU Honors College and will attend graduate school at MIT
Carl Sabottke, a native of Baton Rouge: received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the College of Science in May 2013, was a member of the LSU Honors College and a LA-STEM Research Scholar, and is attending graduate school at the University of Maryland
Adam Brooks, a native of Norristown, Pa.: received a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse and is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student in chemistry in the College of Science
Jonathan Cripe, a native of Lebanon, Ill.: received a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University and is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student in physics in the College of Science
Zachary Edwards, a native of White Oak, Ga.: received a bachelor’s degree from Columbus State University and is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student in physics in the College of Science
The National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 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.
“Being a National Science Foundation awardee is a tremendous honor and blessing from God that has afforded me a great opportunity to pursue my educational interest as well as contribute diversity to higher education,” Grant said. “I speak for my family, colleagues, the Ronald E. McNair staff, and myself when I say that my gratitude is immeasurable.”
A number of the LSU recipients were participants in the annual NSF Graduate Fellowship application workshop held at the university in the fall, hosted in collaboration by the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL, and Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC. Workshop attendees received in-depth advice on the application process and learned strategies to optimize their application for success. The workshop explores topics such as developing a strong research essay, optimizing applications for intellectual merit, developing an application strong in broader impacts and using a high-impact written communication style that will get an application noticed. Faculty that have reviewed applications in the past offer tips on how to make an application outstanding.
“LSU’s Fellows and Honorable Mentions have proven themselves to be reflective scholars whom NSF has identified as future leaders in their respective disciplines,” said Marybeth Lima, the Cliff and Nancy Spanier Alumni Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and director of the Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership. “I congratulate each awardee, their faculty research mentors, and the outstanding training provided by LSU inside and outside the classroom in support of these significant honors.”
The fellows in the 2014 class come from 442 baccalaureate institutions, 58 more than in 2010, when the program first began awarding 2,000 fellowships each year.
Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program continues to be a critical part of NSF’s overall strategy in developing the globally-engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. A high priority is increasing the diversity of the science and engineering workforce, including geographic distribution and the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans.
Fellows may also be eligible for access to cyberinfrastructure resources through the NSF-supported Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment and for Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities.
In addition, fellows have the opportunity for international research collaborations through the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide initiative. The program also supports NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative. CLB supplemental funding may be awarded to sustain the research of active NSF Graduate Research Fellows who have been granted an NSF-approved medical deferral for dependent-care situations.
The ranks of NSF Graduate Research Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering research, become leaders in their chosen careers, and been honored as Nobel laureates. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents and are selected through the NSF peer review process.
For more information on the Graduate Research Fellowship, visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org/.
About the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program
The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is funded by NSF and the Louisiana Board of Regents and managed by the Office of Strategic Initiatives at LSU.
LA-STEM admits students who show great potential to succeed in STEM areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and who have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders. The Office of Strategic Initiatives looks for students who are committed to promoting diversity in the sciences in their undergraduate and graduate careers. Students are required to maintain the highest of academic standards to remain in the program. They also exemplify a strong dedication to mentoring, enthusiasm for diverse cultural experiences and a passion for serving the community. For more information on LA-STEM at LSU, visit http://www.lsu.edu/lastem/.
About the Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars Program
McNair Research Scholars, operated in the LSU University College, is funded through the Department of Education TRIO Programs, which are grants made available to colleges and other nonprofits for the purpose of increasing postsecondary educational opportunities. LSU has three TRIO Programs – McNair, Upward Bound and Student Support Services – whose combined efforts bring more than $850,000 of annual federal funding for the purpose of supporting postsecondary education opportunities at LSU and in the Baton Rouge community.
Students in the program participate in activities such as faculty mentorship and research, regular one-on-one counseling with McNair Program staff and graduate school entrance exam preparation. Each student is expected to conduct their research, write about it and make a public presentation at a national conference regarding their research topic. In addition, the McNair Program provides a variety of resources, including funding for undergraduate research and access to laptop computers, iPads and digital cameras. For more information, visit http://uiswcmsweb.prod.lsu.edu/universitycollege/UC_RMP/index.html.
The LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership promotes learning, student leadership and community engagement through service-learning activities and community partnerships. For more information, visit www.lsu.edu/ccell.
As the first program of its kind in the nation, LSU Communication Across the Curriculum works with LSU faculty to train, mentor and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional skills in written, spoken, visual and technological communication. For more information, visit www.cxc.lsu.edu.
The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, or IMSD, has been key in helping students pursue successful research careers and leadership positions, and these scholars are among the most sought-after candidates nationwide for entrance into Ph.D. or post-Ph.D. programs. IMSD has been funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Heath since 2004, and was recently renewed through 2018. The program supports the research of two minority graduate students, and 20 minority undergraduate students per year at LSU. The IMSD Scholars receive personalized research training, counseling, mentoring and curriculum development, and go on to pursue successful careers and leadership positions in the biomedical or behavioral sciences.