Campus News Science & Technology

New fellowship programs attract promising graduate students

Preston Basting recently began his doctoral studies in UGA's Integrated Life Sciences program. (Photo by Nancy Evelyn/UGA)
Preston Basting recently began his doctoral studies in UGA's Integrated Life Sciences program. (Photo by Nancy Evelyn/UGA)

After earning his undergraduate degree in biology, Preston Basting aspired to become a scientist specializing in bioinformatics. Figuring out the next step for graduate school was difficult. That is, until a new fellowship program at UGA made his decision easier.

Basting, who recently began his doctoral studies in UGA’s Integrated Life Sciences program, is among the first cohort of students recruited through a competitive fellowship program known as the Georgia Research Education Award Traineeship. GREAT Fellowships are awarded to academically outstanding students who demonstrate superior potential in fields that align with the university’s Signature Research Themes. GREAT Fellows receive a graduate research assistantship with an annual compensation of $27,000 and a tuition waiver, and the fellowship is renewable for up to five years of total support.

“My nomination occurred around the time I was making my final decisions on where I wanted to attend graduate school, so it definitely made it easier for me to choose UGA,” Basting said.

For students at the master’s level, the Graduate School has created the Georgia Impact Now Fellows program, which recognizes outstanding students pursuing degrees in fields that are critical to Georgia’s economic vitality. GAIN Fellowships
are renewable for up to two years of total support, and they provide an annual compensation of $20,000 and a tuition waiver.

GAIN Fellow Heejung Son worked as a clinical research coordinator in Korea before her interests shifted and brought her to Athens this fall as a master’s student in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

“I know that it’s quite competitive to get into graduate school, so just in case, I considered other schools,” she said, adding that she is particularly excited about receiving a research assistantship, since they are so competitive for students at the master’s level.

The GREAT and GAIN Fellowship programs are among several enhancements to graduate education in recent years. In 2016, the Graduate School launched Graduate Scholars LEAD (Leadership, Engagement and Development) professional development program. In addition, the Graduate School now offers training grant support for faculty members and a voluntary incentive program that provides matching funds for additional doctoral research assistants. This fall, the university launched its Double Dawgs linked-degree program, which provides students with more than 100 opportunities to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years or less.

“Ambitious and talented graduate students are a cornerstone of any research-intensive institution, including UGA,” said Suzanne Barbour, dean of the Graduate School. “Across the nation, graduate students perform much of the research that drives the discovery of new energy sources, leads to development of novel therapies, provides insights into history and culture, results in production of pest-resistant crops, and addresses other important societal issues. Through these efforts, graduate students enrich all of our lives.”

For more on the GREAT and GAIN Fellows programs and other funding from the Graduate School, visit

The 2017-2018 GREAT and GAIN Fellows and their fields of study are listed below:

GREAT Fellows
Bryant Barnes II, History
Preston Basting, Integrated Life Sciences
Lynsey Kovar, Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics
Alexandra Ostezan, Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics
Peter Steiner, Geology
Natalie Wilson, Integrated Life Sciences, Infectious Diseases

GAIN Fellows
Rachel Collier, Agricultural Engineering
Alexandra Felsing, Accounting
Ishani Ishani, Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors
Eetu Kohtanen, Engineering
Cody Pace, Statistics
Elizabeth Solly, Ecology/Science Education
Heejung Son, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Anthony Wright, Environmental Health