The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is one of the most prestigious awards to support graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Nearly 17,000 applications were submitted for the 2016 NSF Fellowship competition, resulting in 2,000 award offers. This spring, 14 current and former Texas A&M University students were selected as 2016 NSF Graduate Fellows, while 21 were named Honorable Mention. Several of these students participated in LAUNCH programs at Texas A&M, including 5 who completed an undergraduate research thesis as an Undergraduate Research Scholar, 4 who participated in the University Honors program, one Undergraduate Research Ambassador, and two authors for Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal.
2016 NSF Graduate Fellow Alexandria Payne recently graduated from Texas A&M, where she double-majored in bioenvironmental sciences and wildlife & fisheries sciences. Alex began her research experience in the labs of Dr. Karen-Beth Scholthof and Dr. Herman Scholthof in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. Alex will continue at A&M for a PhD in entomology, studying with Dr. Juliana Rangel in the Honey Bee Lab, where Alex will investigate the interactions of honey bees and the invasive Tawny crazy ant. Alex, a University Scholar and Undergraduate Research Scholar, was previously nominated for the Udall Scholarship recognizing commitment to environmental issues. She graduated cum laude with the Honors Fellows and Honors in Bioenvironmental Sciences distinctions. Alex has an upcoming publication, “Do More Promiscuous Honey Bee Queens Produce Healthier Hives?” in Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, Volume 8, to be published in fall 2016.
In addition to the GRFP, Alex’s graduate study will be supported by Texas A&M’s Diversity Fellowship. She also received the Senior Merit award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Reflecting on the benefits of the GRFP, Alex says, “This fellowship has given me the gift of being able to choose research topics I find interesting and wish to delve into. I wish to advise everyone to apply for or reach for the seemingly impossible as you may surprise yourself with the results.”
Ana Chang-Gonzalez, another 2016 NSF Graduate Fellow, recently graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering and the Engineering Honors distinction. As an undergraduate, she volunteered in the Molecular Biomechanics Lab and conducted protein simulation in an AggiE-Challenge. She also began working with the University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories to develop software for biological purposes. With NSF support, Ana will continue that project in her graduate studies, expanding a software that builds computational models of biological images and analyzes them for quantitative information. Ana is a former resident of the Honors Housing Community and a member of Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the Biomedical Engineering Honor Society, and Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. She has an upcoming publication, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Numbers,” in Explorations: the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal, Volume 8, to be published in fall 2016.
A three-time recipient of the Dean’s Honor Roll, Ana says that, through her NSF application, she “learned how to neatly craft all [her] experiences into a concise form, how to formulate a research proposal, and the value of having faculty mentors that truly care about [her] success.” This fellowship will allow her “to focus more on conducting high-impact research and making a true difference in the field.”
LAUNCH would like to congratulate the Aggie 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows and Honorable Mentions and acknowledge their valuable contributions to our programs!
National Science Foundation 2016 Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees:
- Shelby Bieritz, biomedical engineering. 2014 Fulbright Scholar.
- Timothy Brown, physics of materials research.
- Stacy Cereceres, biomedical engineering.
- Ana Chang Gonzalez, bioengineering. Engineering Honors, Explorations
- Chace Holzheuser, evolutionary biology.
- Ethan Kamphaus, materials engineering. Engineering Honors.
- Shannon Murray, materials engineering.
- David Parobek, macromolecular, supramolecular, & nanochemistry.
- Alexandria Payne, entomology. University Honors Program, Honors in Bioenvironmental Sciences, Undergraduate Research Scholar, University Scholar, Udall Scholarship nominee, Explorations
- John Peters, neurosciences. University Honors Program, Undergraduate Research Scholar.
- Karis Tang-Quan, bioengineering.
- Taneidra Walker, biomedical engineering.
- Jessica Wang, paleoclimate geosciences. Undergraduate Research Scholar.
- Sarah Ward, macromolecular, supramolecular, & nanochemistry.
- Kristine Arvola, tissue engineering.
- Alyssa Bennett, ocean engineering. University Honors Program, Honors Housing Community Sophomore & Junior Advisor.
- Megan Brooks, materials engineering.
- Erin Buchholtz, ecology.
- Prachi Dhavalikar, biomedical engineering.
- Garrett Edwards, biochemistry.
- Grace Fletcher, biomedical engineering.
- Thomas Fowler, aeronautical & aerospace engineering.
- Julie Hammett, systems engineering.
- Joshua Herrington, aeronautical & aerospace engineering.
- Chris Holland, organismal biology.
- Rania Labib, mechanical engineering.
- Pierre Lau, environmental biology.
- James Moore, chemical synthesis. Undergraduate Research Scholar.
- Anish Patel, chemical engineering.
- Zachary Popkin-Hall, evolutionary biology.
- Ryan Priest, environmental engineering.
- Mayra Ramirez, developmental psychology.
- Elise Voltura, environmental biology.
- Elizabeth Walsh, physiology.
- Randy White, particle physics. Undergraduate Research Scholar, Undergraduate Research Ambassador.
Written by Adelia Humme ’15, Program Coordinator for National Fellowships, LAUNCH
Edited by Annabelle Aymond ’14, Administrative Assistant for Undergraduate Research, LAUNCH