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Sharon Ling, Kate O’Connor, and Kristen Vogt earn national honors for research in genetics, knot theory, and computational chemistry

TCNJ students are competing—and succeeding­—on a national level in garnering research scholarships in the STEM fields.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Sharon Ling ’18

TCNJ senior Sharon Ling is among only 2,000 students nationwide to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is one of the most competitive sources of support for outstanding students in STEM fields who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

Ling, a math major, is currently working on research in genetics and obesity with TCNJ mathematics professor Michael Ochs. She’ll head to the University of Minnesota for a PhD in biostatistics, and has visions of being a college professor with the goal of making math accessible to everyone.

“I really love my mentors here at TCNJ,” she says. “I want to be that for someone else.”

The three-year fellowship includes a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 for tuition and fees. More than 12,000 students applied for the fellowship. Last year, four TCNJ seniors received awards.

“In the last few years, we’ve put in place a formal program to help students learn about the program and prepare their applications,” says Jeff Osborn, dean of the School of Science. “This fellowship program is highly competitive, so we’re thrilled with our students’ successes.”

Goldwater Scholarship

Kate O’Connor ’19

Kate O’Connor can’t help but smile when she talks about math, and no doubt her grin grew even bigger when she learned she had been named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar.

O’Connor, a junior math major, was selected alongside just three other students from New Jersey institutions for the honor. Goldwater Scholars are chosen through a highly selective national competition that honors exceptional undergraduate students who plan to pursue graduate degrees in the STEM fields and careers in research. The $7,500 scholarship helps cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board.

This summer, she’ll head to Williams College in Massachusetts for nine weeks of knot theory research—an area of interest sparked by her work with TCNJ professor Cynthia Curtis. She’s serious about a research career and plans to head to grad school for a PhD in pure math.

Kristen Vogt ’19

Kristen Vogt, a junior chemistry major, received a Goldwater Honorable Mention for her research in ionic liquids and computational chemistry with Joseph Baker, assistant professor of chemistry. She’s looking forward to 10 weeks of experimental research at the University of Minnesota starting in June.

Additionally, all three women will be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, on April 25.

Emily W. Dodd ’03




Four TCNJ alums also received ­NSF Graduate Research Fellowships for their current graduate research. Two more received honorable mentions.

Awarded alumni:

– Alana Huszar ’16, mathematical sciences, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

– Kirsten Christensen ’16, psychology, University of Massachusetts—Boston

– Syndi Barish ’16, genetics, Yale University

– Susan Knox ’16, chemistry, Yale University

Honorable mention alumni:

– Alyssa DeSimone ’16, civil engineering, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

– Zachary Nelson ’16, electrical engineering, Johns Hopkins University