April 14, 2023
Four VCU students, three alumni selected for prestigious NSF grant
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides three years of financial support to help exceptional graduate students advance their studies in STEM-based disciplines.
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Four Virginia Commonwealth University students and three alumni have been selected for this year’s National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. This highly competitive national initiative helps exceptional graduate students advance their studies in STEM-based disciplines.
The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support, including an annual stipend of $37,000 and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the institution. Fellows must be pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree at an accredited institution.
The four current VCU students honored as NSF Graduate Research Fellows for 2023 are:
- Bao Chau, who received a degree in chemical engineering from the College of Engineering in 2022. Chau is now studying pharmaceutical engineering at VCU.
- Santiago Lopez, a member of VCU Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Scholars Program who will graduate in May with a degree in biomedical engineering from the College of Engineering. Lopez will continue studies in that field at Vanderbilt University.
- Leia Troop, who received a degree in biomedical engineering from Mercer University in 2021. Troop is continuing studies in that field in VCU’s College of Engineering.
- Sierra Tutwiler, who will graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering and in physics from the College of Humanities and Sciences. Tutwiler will begin doctoral studies in mechanical and nuclear engineering in the fall in the VCU College of Engineering.
The three VCU alumni honored as NSF Graduate Research Fellows are:
- Madison Bates, who received degrees in biomedical engineering from the College of Engineering and mathematics from the College of Humanities and Sciences in 2021. Bates, who is now studying biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, received the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in 2023 and the Goldwater Scholarship in 2020 while at VCU.
- Vidal Bejar-Padilla, a member of the IMSD Scholars Program who received a degree in biomedical engineering from the College of Engineering in 2020. Bejar-Padilla is now studying developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Nana Twumasi-Ankrah, a member of the IMSD Scholars Program who received a degree in bioinformatics from VCU Life Sciences in 2021. Twumasi-Ankrah, who is now studying bioinformatics at Harvard University, received the Goldwater Scholarship in 2020 while at VCU.
“Consistent with VCU’s expanding research efforts, our undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni are competing more successfully than ever before for nationally competitive research fellowships such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.” said Jeff Wing, director of VCU’s National Scholarship Office. “Through structured programs such as IMSD, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and the different undergraduate and graduate STEM programs, these students are being prepared to assume elite leadership roles in domestic and international research communities.”
VCU’s National Scholarship Office assists students and recent alumni with the application process for the NSF program and other esteemed awards. The NSO will be hosting the following NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program sessions this spring:
- Wednesday, April 26, at 3 p.m. (Faculty panel: The reviewer perspective)
- Friday, April 28, at 2 p.m. (Writing workshop: The GRF personal statement)
- Wednesday, May 31, at noon. (Information session)
To register for the events or request a recording, fill out this form.
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