This year, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) was awarded to 2,000 people nationwide. Twelve out of the 2,000 winners were students, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, and alumni from the university. Two of the winners from the university were Hannah Clipp and Nicholas Geneva.
According to the National Science Foundation website, the fellowship recognizes students who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees in fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The award includes $34,000 for three years and $12,000 in cost of education allowances for tuition and fees to paid to the school.
The GRFP is extremely competitive. This past year there were more than 13,000 applicants and only 15 percent of those applicants won the fellowship.
Clipp is completing her master’s degree in wildlife ecology at the university. For her master’s thesis research, she is working with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Cornell University. Clipp stated in an email message that she is studying the stopover ecology of landbirds passing through the Gulf Coast during the spring and fall migration.
On the other hand, Geneva is a senior at the university. He stated in an email message that as an undergraduate, his research involved running simulations on supercomputers in order to look at the physics driving the flow — a feat that has been unachievable through traditional experimental means. Geneva will be going to the University of Notre Dame for his graduate degree where he will study how to quantify uncertainty for the computer simulations.
The GRFP is designed for recipients to choose the research they are interested in and choose the university where they would like to pursue the research. The winners of the fellowship are not bounded by the financial support.
“This gives you the freedom to: one, choose the university with the most interesting research, and two, research an area that you are interested in rather than being restricted by an external grant,” Geneva said. “So the money is to allow me to do research full time as a Ph.D. student and pursue a field that I think is meaningful.”
Out of this year’s 2,000 winners, 1,158 were women and 498 were from minority groups. Clipp discussed how it felt to be recognized as a woman of color in science.
“I appreciate that the NSF recognizes the underrepresentation of women in science as an issue,” Clipp said. “Even further, as a minority woman in a field that has been historically dominated by white men, it feels important to set precedents and spread the awareness that there are no limits to achievement in this field.”