Rice students and alumni awarded NSF fellowships for graduate research

Rice University students and alumni were among the 2,000 people named as recipients of awards from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 2017 Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

Logos for National Science Foundation and Graduate Research Fellowship ProgramThe GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution). The support is intended for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science and engineering. The program is part of NSF’s strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce needed to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

“This unique program has nurtured economic innovation and leadership in the U.S. continuously since 1952 by recruiting and supporting outstanding students with high potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics very early in their graduate training,” said Jim Lewis, NSF acting assistant director for education and human resources. “These talented individuals have gone on to make important discoveries, win Nobel Prizes, train many generations of American scientists and engineers and create inventions that improve our lives.”

Rice students who are recipients of the 2017 NSF fellowships are listed below, along with their fields of study.


  • Morgan Abernathy, chemistry – chemistry of life processes.
  • Nathan Bucki, engineering – mechanical engineering.
  • Jennifer Dawkins, Comp/IS/Eng – bioinformatics and other informatics.
  • Sara McIlwaine Hooper, engineering – biomedical engineering.
  • Claudia Kann, engineering – mechanical engineering.
  • Megan McCurry, life sciences – microbial biology.
  • Mia Polansky, Comp/IS/Eng – machine learning.
  • Katri Sofjan, engineering – bioengineering.

Graduate students:

  • Peter Geldermans, mathematical sciences – computational mathematics.
  • Taylor Hernandez, chemistry – chemical measurement and imaging.
  • Keiko Kato, materials research – chemistry of materials.
  • Zachary Kingston ’16, Comp/IS/Eng – bioinformatics and other informatics.
  • David Leach, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.
  • Kaitlyn Lovato, chemistry – chemical synthesis.
  • Nicholas Moringo, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry.
  • Kim Raath, mathematical sciences – statistics.
  • Jordan Wagner, engineering – mechanical engineering.
  • Michael Weylandt, mathematical sciences – statistics.

Rice alumni at other schools who received NSF fellowships:

  • James Allred ’16 at Princeton University, engineering – electrical and electronic engineering.
  • Fernando Alvarez ’16 at University of California at Berkeley, engineering – electrical and electronic engineering.
  • Shannon Cheng, ’16, current school not listed, psychology – social psychology.
  • Kristin Foringer ’15 at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, social sciences – sociology.
  • Veronica Gough ’16 at Duke University, engineering – biomedical engineering.
  • Rebecca Maher ’16 at Oregon State University, life sciences – microbial biology.
  • Margaret McDonnell ’15 at University of Washington, life sciences – cell biology.
  • Raymundo Moya ’16 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chemistry – physical chemistry.
  • Sarah Schwettmann ’15 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, psychology – cognitive neuroscience.
  • Bilan Yang ’16 at Stanford University, engineering – bioengineering.

For more info on the GRFP, click here.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.