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Ten Stony Brook Students Earn 2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Faculty 1

Front row: Andrea Bruck (Chemistry), Elizabeth Berrigan (Physics), Katharine Thompson (Anthropology), Megan Finsaas (Psychology). Back row: Jesse Brizzi (Computer Science), Matthew Martin Huie (Materials Engineering), Ashleigh Lussenden (Neuroscience), Spencer Saraf (SOMAS), Allison Frost (Psychology), and Wilka Carvalho (Neuroscience).

Science-minded Seawolves made a splash in the 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), winning 10 coveted fellowships and five honorable mentions.

The NSF GRFP was established in 1952 to help develop and boost diversity of the United States’ science and engineering research workforce by supporting grad students who pursue research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in NSF-support STEM disciplines.

This year’s fellowships provide each winner a $34,000 annual stipend for three years plus a $12,000 yearly cost-of-education allowance. Out of 16,500 applicants and 2,000 winners in 2015 nationwide, Stony Brook doubled its number of fellowships earned in 2014.

“Stony Brook graduate students are among the best in the country, yet for decades we’ve been winning only about three of these awards per year,” said Graduate Director of Psychology Susan Brennan. “This year, with 10, we’re moving in the right direction!”

Cindy Leiton and Susan Brennan advise NSF GRFP applicants at Stony Brook.

Students at Stony Brook seeking an NSF fellowship are in good hands. Brennan, a member of the OVPR Research Advisory Committee, and Cindy Leiton, a postdoctoral associate who works with the Center for Inclusive Education, advised a combined total of 60 NSF GRFP applicants this year. Both Brennan and Leiton were NSF Fellows as PhD students.

“We had a great turnout this year with applicants from at least 20 of our graduate programs,” said Brennan. “These talented young scientists are amazing — their research is poised to change the world, really! Some have surmounted huge obstacles to get here, but their success wouldn’t be possible without the help of their advisors and graduate program directors.”

Five Stony Brook grad students also won Honorable Mention this year: Nicole Alexis Bender (Ecology & Evolution), Vihitaben Sureshbhai Patel (Biomedical Engineering), Katherine Anne Shirley (Geosciences), Benjamin David Sokolowsky (Mathematics) and Jamie Sommer (Sociology).

Meet Stony Brook University’s 2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellows
(Click each name to learn their inspiration and how they plan to better the world through science research.)

Elizabeth Berrigan


Elizabeth Berrigan
Grad program: Physics, Astronomy
Undergrad: BA in Biochemistry, Physics, Chapman University
Hometown: Nashua, NH
Advisor: Chris Herzog



Jesse Brizzi


Jesse Brizzi
Grad program: Computer Science
Undergrad: BS in Computer Science, University of South Florida
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
Advisor: Dimitris Samaras



Andrea Bruck


Andrea Bruck
Grad program: Chemistry
Undergrad: BS in Chemistry, Illinois State University
Hometown: Streator, IL
Advisor: Esther Takeuchi, Kenneth Takeuchi, Amy Marschilok



Wilka Carvalho


Wilka Carvalho
Grad program: Theoretical Neuroscience (intended)
Undergrad: BS in Physics, Stony Brook University
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY & Northern Potosi, Bolivia
Advisor: Axel Drees



Megan Finsaas


Megan Finsaas
Grad program: Clinical Psychology
Undergrad: BA in Psychology, Bethel University
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Advisor: Dan Klein



Allison Frost


Allison Frost
Grad program: Clinical Psychology
Undergrad: BA, Northwestern University
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Advisor: Kristin Bernard



Matthew Martin Huie


Matthew Martin Huie

Grad program: Materials Science, Engineering
Undergrad: BS in Chemical Engineering
, SUNY at Buffalo
Hometown: Northport, NY
Advisor: Esther Takeuchi



Ashleigh Lussenden


Ashleigh Lussenden
Grad program: Neuroscience
Undergrad: BA in Biology (Neuroscience), BA in Psychology (Cognitive Neurosciences), University of Denver
Hometown: Denver, CO
Advisor: David Talmage and co-advisor Lorna Role



Spencer Saraf


Spencer Saraf
Grad program: SOMAS, Biological Oceanography
Undergrad: BS in Chemistry, SUNY at Oswego
Hometown: Lockport, NY
Advisor: Dr. Anne McElroy



Kate Elizabeth Trimbur Thompson


Katharine (Kate) Elizabeth Trimbur Thompson
Grad program: Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS)
Undergrad: BA in Anthropology, BS in Community, Environment and Development, Pennsylvania State University
Hometown: Doylestown, PA
Advisor: William Jungers and Patricia Wright



— By Brian Smith

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