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Meet TCNJ’s National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship winners

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program is one of the most competitive sources of support for students in STEM fields. The vast majority of recipients are first- and second-year graduate students, but four TCNJ seniors made the list last month when the NSF announced its 2017 awardees:

Rebecca Santorella

Major: mathematics

Research interest: applied mathematics

Grad school: Brown University

Em Schnorr

Major: physics

Research interest: geosciences/glacial seismology

Grad school: University of California, Santa Cruz

Tanya Townsend

Major: chemistry

Research interest: chemical catalysis

Grad school: Yale University

Shirley Wang

Major: psychology

Research interest: clinical science

Grad school: Harvard University

The fellowship is worth a total of $138,000 over three years, including a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance.

All four students have been involved in research projects with faculty mentors at both TCNJ and at host institutions through the NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, and each feels strongly that the preparation they received at TCNJ gave them a leg up on their peers from other schools.

“We don’t have grad students at TCNJ, so you’re doing the work, not helping a grad student with theirs,” says Townsend.

“The research experiences at TCNJ are beyond incredible,” says Wang, whose research on eating disorders was just submitted for publication to International Journal of Eating Disorders.

William McDermott ’15, now in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received an honorable mention.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become lifelong leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

Emily W. Dodd ’03