Each year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program provides fellowship money for graduate students working in areas identified as critical to the advancement of society. GAANN awards are made to specific academic departments or other programs to support graduate fellowships.
In the last grant cycle, four Stony Brook University departments won GAANN awards to further graduate student research, bringing the total number of active GAANN fellowships at Stony Brook to six.
The new GAANN fellowship programs are in psychology, civil engineering, computer science and biomedical engineering. Principal Investigators are Susan Brennan, professor of cognitive science, Department of Psychology; Ruwen Qin, associate professor and graduate director, Department of Civil Engineering; C.R. Ramakrishnan, professor and graduate program director, Department of Computer Science; and David Rubenstein, associate professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering.
In addition to these new fellowship programs, Stony Brook is home to two ongoing GAANN awards, one in materials science and chemical engineering led by Dilip Gersappe, professor and department chair, Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, and another in electrical and computer engineering, led by Leon Shterengas, professor and graduate program director, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Each GAANN award covers five fellowships per year. Fellows get tuition scholarships, broad-based fee scholarships and stipends. With six active programs on campus — the most active awards Stony Brook has ever had at once — the university can offer GAANN fellowships to 30 graduate students per year, totaling $3.6 million over the three-year award period.
“Having six GAANN awards on campus translates to 13 percent of the graduate programs at Stony Brook and 63 percent of the departments in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences being able to offer a GAANN fellowship,” said Nina Maung-Gaona, associate vice president for research. “Graduate students are the engine of research and having adequate resources to support them is critical to our ability to recruit outstanding graduate students in this increasingly competitive national landscape.”
Although the disciplines identified as areas of national need may change each grant cycle, Stony Brook’s vast range of disciplines position it well for consideration. As a result, Stony Brook faculty have had great success in being selected for funding.
To prepare for the national competition, the Office of Proposal Development (OPD) partnered with the Graduate School to streamline the proposal submission process. They offered services to give faculty comprehensive background information about GAANN and provided substantial administrative and strategic support for developing and submitting applications.
This campus-wide effort was led by OPD and the Graduate School, including Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, the Center for Inclusive Education, the Offices of Sponsored Programs and Grants Management, and the Office of Financial Aid. Together, these offices held several group and individual information sessions about the purpose of GAANN and the details of the application process. Past GAANN winners from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences attended the sessions to offer strategic insight and guidance to this year’s applicants.
“Graduate education at Stony Brook has always been a team effort, and this was a great example of how strong coordination between stakeholders makes it easier for us all to support our faculty and graduate students,” said Kathleen Flint Ehm, assistant dean for graduate and postdoctoral initiatives in the Graduate School and director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. “This was a huge win for graduate education and the entire university.”
— Robert Emproto