21 Rice students, 8 alums earn NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Twenty-one current Rice University students and eight Rice alumni at other schools were selected for the 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Only 2,000 students across the country were offered this fellowship award from more than 16,000 applicants.

The program recognizes and financially supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a track record of selecting recipients who become lifelong leaders and contribute to scientific innovation and teaching. Since the program’s inception in 1952, more than 30 NSF graduate research fellows have become Nobel laureates, and more than 440 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The 12 Rice graduate students, nine undergraduates and eight alumni attending other schools will receive support for three years of graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in the fields of science and engineering relevant to the NSF’s mission. In addition to an annual stipend of $34,000 for the students, NSF will provide an annual cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to their graduate school.

Recipients of the 2015 NSF fellowships and their fields of study are listed below. They plan to do their fellowships at Rice.

Graduate students

  • Andrea Drager, life sciences — ecology.
  • Justin Gregory Erwin, chemistry — chemical synthesis.
  • Annicka Carter Evans, engineering — bioengineering.
  • Agustin Flores, mathematical sciences — statistics.
  • John Alexander Gomez, chemistry — chemical theory, models and computational methods.
  • Jose Luis Olmos, life sciences — structural biology.
  • Desmond Evan Schipper, chemistry — macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.
  • Kyle Warren Smith, chemistry — chemical measurement and imaging.
  • Dayne Francis Swearer, chemistry — macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.
  • Eduardo Villarreal, materials research — materials, other — nanomaterials.
  • Ryan Scott Warnick, mathematical sciences — biostatistics.
  • Nicholas Zaibaq, chemistry — macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.


  • Laura Helen Blumenschein, engineering — mechanical.
  • Spencer James Kent, engineering — electrical and electronic.
  • Jaime Enrique Martinez, life sciences — biophysics.
  • Rachel Epstein Marzen, geosciences — geophysics.
  • Christopher Allan Metzler, engineering — electrical and electronic.
  • Kamal G. Shah, engineering — bioengineering.
  • Ravi Uday Sheth, engineering — bioengineering.
  • Rebecca Smith, comp/IS/eng — computer systems and embedded systems.
  • Julia Zhao, chemistry — macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.

Rice alumni at other schools and the institutions where they will do their fellowships:

  • Alicia Allen ’09, engineering — biomedical, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Jessica Faber ’12, psychology — clinical psychology and psychopathology research, University of Minnesota.
  • Naomi Marisa Fa-Kaji ’14, psychology — social, undeclared.
  • Joscelyn Claraluz Mejias ’13, engineering — biomedical, Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • Mary Celeste Riepe ’13, life sciences — genetics, University of California, Berkeley.
  • Tara Lyn Slough ’12, social sciences — political science, Columbia University.
  • Julie Walker ’14, engineering — mechanical, Stanford University.
  • Amanda Catherine Wicker ’14, chemistry — chemical synthesis, MIT.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program accords honorable mention to meritorious applicants who do not receive fellowship awards. Four seniors and nine graduate students from Rice received honorable mentions: graduate students Jayvee Ralph Abella, Shelby Ann Bieritz, Brandee Nicole Carlson, Caitlin Marie Guenther, Kelli Humbird, Justine Therese Lamperty, Eric Mark Lewis, Emily Megan Reiser, and Sandte Stanley; and seniors Charles Henry Adelmann, Nicole Susanne Moody, Linda Ton Nguyen and Dante Zakhidov. Thirteen Rice alumni at other schools also received honorable mentions: Emily Adkins ’12, Benjamin Austin Adler ’14, Hannah Gail Bosley ’13, Michael Austin DeMarco ’14, Megan Anne Kirchgessner ’14, Johanna Ruth Ohm ’13, Michelle Phillips ’12, Mark Houston Plitt ’13, Joseph Patrick Quinn ’14, Nicholas Ryder ’14, Michael Swift ’13, Anna Charlene Wright ’14 and Joseph Kung Yu ’13.


About Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans is a senior editor in the Rice's Office of Public Affairs.