The majority of this year's awardees and honorable mentions participated in the application support services provided by the UA Graduate College. For more information on the support available for students applying for fellowships, visit https://grad.arizona.edu/ofce/summer-2017-application-support-program.
A group of 29 students affiliated with the University of Arizona has received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Twenty-three other UA-affiliated students received honorable mention.
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported fields who have demonstrated the potential to be high-achieving scientists and engineers, providing three years of support valued at $132,000 per student.
"We are extraordinarily proud of this year's awardees," said Andrew Carnie, dean of the UA Graduate College.
"The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is extremely competitive, and receiving this number of awards testifies to the high quality of our graduate student body in general and to the promise of these students in particular," Carnie said.
Some of this year's awardees include:
Mel Ferrara, a doctoral student in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies. Her research project looks at men's experiences of the diagnosis and treatment of Klinefelter Syndrome — a genetic condition in which a male is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome. In this project, Ferrara is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which medicalization, specifically surrounding fertility and testosterone, impact constructions of masculinity and manhood.
Rebecca Bedwell, a graduate student in the School of Anthropology, specializing in medical anthropology. For her doctorate, Bedwell plans to research how international family networks cope with the stresses of migration and how caregiving is modified in the context of migration between Mexico and the United States.
David Vega, a doctoral student in the optical sciences program. Vega's research is based on early detection of ovarian cancer using optical coherence tomography and multiphoton microscopy. The breakthrough technologies he is developing are transferable to numerous applications and offer broad impacts in several other fields, ranging from other medical diagnostics to astronomy.
U.S. Army veteran Leland Sutter, a master's student in the School of Geography and Development. His research focuses on carbon dioxide movement from the soil to the atmosphere. Sutter's projects include using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology to link soil and plant carbon movement, as well as a separate study looking at aspect influenced carbon movement within the critical zone.
Alison Comrie, a Tucson native, a 2017 senior majoring in neuroscience and cognitive science and minoring in information science, technology and art. Comrie's research at UA has been in the lab of Carol Barnes, a Regents' Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Neurology and Neuroscience and director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
Cesar Medina, a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Graduate Interdisciplinary Program working with Julie Miller, an assistant professor with appointments in the Department of Neuroscience and Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. In the Miller lab, Medina is assisting with the development of the first genetic model of Parkinson's disease in zebra finches to examine speech changes associated with mutations linked to the disease. Medina is particularly interested in how the environment effects the molecular mechanisms that regulate neuronal function in individuals and how that leads to changes in learning and memory.
Katie Sayre, a biological anthropology graduate student in the School of Anthropology, where she works with associate professor Dave Raichlen. Sayre's research focuses on how physical activity and caregiving practices among small-scale societies in East Africa impact health as a person ages. She is particularly interested in understanding how the kinds of lifestyles our human ancestors engaged in may have relaxed constraints on aging and allowed the human lifespan to increase.
Earlier UA recipients have gone on to gain notable fellowships and postdoctoral placements, with some gaining national and international attention for their research efforts. Among them is UA alumnus Lujendra Ojha who, while at the UA, first discovered water-related streaks on Mars in 2010. Ojha is now a Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at Johns Hopkins University.
Another UA alumnus, Ahmed Badran, went on to study at Harvard University after his time at the UA. He is currently a fellow at the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Badran applies synthetic biology principles to address shortcomings in the current understanding of conserved cellular processes.
UA alumna Jessica de la Ossa received a Cesar Chavez Pre-Doctoral Fellowship at Dartmouth College. With the fellowship, de la Ossa spent a year in residence at Dartmouth to focus on her dissertation research.
Diana J. Meter, who studied aggression and victimization in adolescents during her time at the UA, is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas, Dallas.