Four Stony Brook University students have been awarded prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP) by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with another three SBU students earning honorable mention.
The NSF GRFP was established in 1952 to help develop and boost diversity of the United States science and engineering research workforce by supporting graduate students who pursue research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in NSF-supported STEM disciplines.
The graduate research fellowships provide funding for three years of graduate study in research-based master’s and doctoral programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and STEM education. NSF Fellows receive three years of an annual stipend of $37,000 across their graduate career. The NSF chose about 2,500 winners for the 2023 term.
Students honored with fellowships include: Marie Millares, Materials Science and Chemical Engineering; Asa Wong-Gómez, Anthropology; Gabrille Lopez, Marine Vertebrate Biology; and Ava Nederlander, Computer Engineering.
The honorable mentions are Sarah Barkley, Clinical Psychology; Matthew Belzer, Physics and Applied Mathematics & Statistics; and James St. John, Physics.
“I am excited Stony Brook students and alumni are being recognized for their work at the national level. I hope their success inspires other students to apply for the GRFP or other fellowships in the future,” said Ashley Staples, director for External Fellowships.
Students interested in applying for the NSF GRFP should visit this page: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program | External Fellowships and Scholarships.
The Fellowship Winners
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Research Advisors: Jason Lewis, Elisabeth Hildebrand, and Katheryn Twiss
Mitigating food insecurity and malnutrition is a major challenge in many regions of the world today– especially in those that have experienced colonization. While there are a number of organizations trying to combat this via food aid etc. These programs largely lack an in-depth understanding of local environments and long-term patterns that archaeology can provide, leading to uninformed and ineffective interventions. Wong-Gomez is interested in using archaeology to fill in these gaps of knowledge, which is essential for building a food sovereign future.
Hometown – Stamford, Connecticut
Major: Marine Vertebrate Biology
Advisor: Heidi Pearson
Lopez’s research aims to understand the marine environmental connections of Southeast Alaska (SEAK) by studying the marine biogeography of SEAK’s humpback whales. She hopes to determine oceanographic drivers to SEAK’s trophic structure by collecting physical oceanographic data and comparing them to whale sightings, and understand how those drivers are affected by climate change. During her undergraduate studies, she received two National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research opportunities in 2012. Lopez also worked in the tourism industry in Juneau, Alaska, and creates educational materials on the marine life there to educate passengers that come through the area. Lopez will be attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) where she will be pursuing a Masters of Science in Fisheries under the College of Fisheries and Ocean Science.
Hometown: New York, New York
Major: Computer Engineering
Advisors: Fan Ye, PhD
Nederlander’s research focuses on artificial intelligence and its intersection with other sciences to promote scientific discovery. Her previous research experiences are interdisciplinary and focused on the applications of scientific computation to astronomy, biology, and chemistry. Nederlander’s background and broad range of scientific interests enables her to understand a wide range of scientific topics and the connections between key problems in these fields, and the computational methods that could be used to study them. Nederlander completed her Wesleyan Senior Thesis with Honors distinction.
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Major: Nanoscale Engineering
Minor: Applied Mathematics
Research advisors: Esther Takeuchi, Amy Marschilok, Kenneth Takeuchi
Millares’ research focuses on developing next generation batteries, which can be used to power vehicles and microgrids worldwide and substitute fossil fuels. As an immigrant from the Philippines, she wanted to be a part of the global effort to reduce emissions by addressing issues in the automotive and power generation industries, which are currently the main contributors to air pollution. The objective of her research is to progress battery technology to fit the needs of its applications and overcome challenges hindering their full implementation, such as energy density, battery life, and costs. Millares was a 2022 Ferguson Merit Award recipient.
Hometown: Tarrytown, New York
Major: Clinical Psychology
Research Advisor: Brady Nelson
Social and emotional processes shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and they are inherent to how we interact with and understand the world. Barkley’s research utilizes neuroscience methods to explore neural systems underlying the dysregulation of these processes in individuals with psychopathology. She hopes to use this research to identify neurobiological markers that help us predict, characterize, and treat psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Barkley received a Stony Brook University Graduate Council Fellowship (2022).
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
Majors: Physics and Applied Mathematics & Statistics
Minor: Electrical Engineering.
Research Advisors: Eric Jones and Harold Metcalf
Belzer currently does research in the Laser Teaching Center studying how individual photons, discrete bundles of light energy, emitted from chaotic light sources bunch together. These measurements are very important in quantum computing, where they are used to characterize highly specialized light sources. In the Fall, he will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Optics at the University of Rochester where he aims to research shrinking large optical setups onto chips. Belzer is a student mentor for the Society of Physics students.
James St. John
Hometown: East Rockaway, NY
Research Advisors: Dr. Matthew J. Wright (Undergraduate, Adelphi University), Dr. Alexander Orlov (Graduate, Stony Brook University).
James St John researches Electrodynamic Shield (EDS) technology for applications on self – cleaning solar panels. His research group aims to overcome the bottlenecks related to thin-film deposition, which EDS utilizes. He is currently in the process of determining the environmental effects on thin films such as climate and temperature with Finite Element Method (FEM) modeling software. The future of his research is to test and characterize advanced methods of thin film deposition using x-ray scattering at Brookhaven National Labs. In October 2022, St John was awarded the Graduated Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellowship.
— Nicole Dona