Reedies Rack up NSF Grad Research Awards

Ten students and alumni honored by the National Science Foundation

By Tyler Allen '17 | May 26, 2017

Ten Reed students and alumni have won National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards or honorable mentions this year, for projects ranging from cultural anthropology to theoretical physics.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is the oldest fellowship program in the country that offers direct support to graduate students in STEM fields, and works to help “ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity,” according to its mission statement. Receiving a Graduate Research Fellowship has been the beginning of many brilliant successful careers: 42 fellows have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes, and more than 450 have gone on to become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fellowship is often a springboard directly into successful completion of a PhD program, with more than 70% of awardees completing their doctorates in 11 years. NSF Graduate Fellowships, then, are a natural path for many Reed students, as Reed is the third-highest producer of PhDs in the life and social sciences in the nation.

Awardees include:

Heather Marie Prentice-Walz ’11, anthropology, Northern Illinois University

Megan Duffy ’12, in chemical oceanography, University of Washington

Talya Levitz ’14, biochemistry, OHSU

Yevgeniy Melguy ’15, in linguistics,  UC-Berkeley

Jacob Robertson ’15, in microbial biology

Honorable Mentions include:

Emmi Obara ’12, public policy at the University of Washington

Audrey Williams ’14, developmental biology, University of Chicago

Riley Thornton ’16, mathematics, UCLA

Naomi Gendler ’16, theoretical physics, University of Auckland

Rose Driscoll ’17, biology, Reed

Despite being predominantly articulated for STEM fields, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship also supports promising scholars in social science fields, such as Emmi Obara ’12, who received a honorable mention for her work in public policy at the University of Washington. Her interest in public policy was the culmination of her Reed sociology thesis, and was furthered by a post-graduation job she found through the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

Other awardees, like Talya Levitz ’14, have taken less linear paths. A biochemistry and molecular biology major, she volunteered in Malawi after graduation as a secondary science teacher through the Peace Corps. She also studied abroad her sophomore year at the School for Field Studies’ Center for Wildlife Management Studies in Kenya, and won the Distinguished Student Researcher Award for her work on the ecology of the Noolturesh River. She won the NSF fellowship for her work in biochemistry at OHSU.

Tags: Awards & Achievements, Alumni