Eleven University of California, Riverside students received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research fellowship, the preeminent award program recognizing NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students pursuing research-based graduate and doctoral degrees at accredited institutions in the United States.
UCR’s Graduate Research fellows were among 2,000 awardees chosen from more than 12,000 applicants nationwide. From the 11 UCR students selected, four are undergraduates who will begin their graduate studies next fall, seven are graduate students at UCR, and one of the graduate students completed his undergraduate study at the university.
“Graduate Research fellowships are highly competitive and prestigious awards that underscore the potential UCR’s students possess as candidates for continuing their education and obtaining career opportunities in research and technical areas,” said Shaun Bowler, Graduate Division dean. “It is quite an accomplishment to compete and win an award or an honorable mention. This speaks volumes about the research skills and creativity of our students and the quality of our programs.”
The competition selects talented students from different demographic and economic backgrounds. The program is based on geographic distribution and considers diversity in the workforce, with the inclusion of candidates who have disabilities, underrepresented populations, women, and veterans.
Hillary Jenks, director of GradSuccess, and her team run GradEdge/JumpStart, a summer session that aims to increase the participation of underrepresented students in STEM graduate programs. Jenks said the program consists of a workshop series, mentorships, one-on-one writing consultations, and prepares incoming graduate students for NSF fellowships.
Jenks pointed to the success of Julia Adams, a first-year graduate student in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) and a 2018 fellow. She said Adams participated in writing consultations twice a week from July through December. “We are delighted to see the fruits of her commitment and to support her in the process.”
Gladis Herrera-Berkowitz, director of student engagement, pointed to the participation in special programs such as the California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) and the Chancellor’s Research fellowship, which positions students as competitive candidates for NSF’s Graduate Research fellowship. She said Rosa McGuire, an undergraduate student in CNAS and a 2018 fellow, participated in CAMP and benefited from research opportunities, professional development, and tutoring support services.
Herrera-Berkowitz said Sarah Ruckman, an undergraduate student in CNAS, participated in faculty-mentored research and creative projects as a Chancellor’s Research fellow and received an honorable mention from NSF. Five UCR graduate students received an honorable mention this year.
Graduate Research fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend within a five-year fellowship period along with an allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the autonomy to conduct research at any accredited institution in the United States.
“The award highlights that UCR is a place where the next generation of researchers can flourish with hard work and innovative ideas, not to mention having a major financial impact,” Jenks said. Jenks said the awards pay for the cost of faculty advisors to support students and will save UCR $1.5 million over three years.
Since 1952, NSF has funded more than 50,000 Graduate Research fellowships from 500,000 applicants. Forty-two fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. NSF is an independent federal agency that supports research and education across science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities, and other institutions.
2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellows:
- Alejandro Aron Gallegos, graduate
- Isis Frausto-Vicencio, graduate
- Joseph Valdez, graduate
- Julia Adams, graduate
- Leticia Meza, graduate
- Morgan Dundon, graduate
- Natalie Fischer, graduate
- Rosa Maria McGuire, undergraduate
- Shannon Sweitzer, undergraduate
- Thien-Y Catherine Nguyen, graduate
- Win Colton Cowger, graduate
2018 Honorable Mentions:
- Carys Layton, undergraduate
- Glen Raymond Morrison, undergraduate
- Sarah Nicole Ruckman, undergraduate
- Madison Sankovitz, undergraduate
- Erica Marie Sanderleaf Sarro, undergraduate
- Andrew Danny Widjaja, graduate