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TCNJ students win National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. This year, two TCNJ seniors received this prestigious award.

Kristen Vogt
Major: Chemistry
Faculty mentor: Dr. Joseph Baker
Research interest: Chemical biology
Grad school: Tri-institutional PhD program in chemical biology between Weill Cornell Medicine, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Rockefeller University

Ahmed Mahmoud
Major: Biology
Faculty mentor: Dr. Gary Dickinson
Research interest: Drug discovery and development
Grad School: Weill Cornell Medical College pharmacology program

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.

Both Vogt and Mahmoud have been doing research in labs since their sophomore years at TCNJ and both participated in the Mentored Undergraduate Summer Experience program, which allowed them to team up with faculty members to conduct research.

Vogt says TCNJ’s status as a primarily undergraduate institution gave her an advantage in the NSF selection process.

“Being able to participate in every single aspect of a research project, including the design, execution, success, and failure, has afforded me invaluable hands-on experience that larger research institutions typically do not provide undergraduates,” she says.

Mahmoud credits his faculty mentors with his success. “The incredible faculty in the biology department helped me develop my scientific curiosity and an ability to think like a scientist,” he says.

Seniors Adriana Mendizabal (biology), Kate O’Connor (mathematics), and Allison Smith (chemistry) received honorable mentions.

TCNJ alums Brianna Santangelo ’17 (physics) and Christopher Stabile ’18 (mechanical engineering) received Alumni Fellowship Awards, and Mattheus De Souza ’18 (chemistry), Emily DiMartini ’17 (biomedical engineering, and Audrey Miller ’15 (biology) received honorable mentions.

— Sarah Voorhees ’20