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Thirteen UGA students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Athens, Ga. – The National Science Foundation has awarded Graduate Research Fellowships to 13 University of Georgia students and alumni. Seven more students received honorable mentions. The Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides master’s and doctoral students with up to $121,500 over a five-year period for research projects in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Nationally, the 2010 program awarded 2,000 fellowships and 2,026 honorable mentions from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants.

“NSF Graduate Research Fellowships are highly competitive and prestigious,” said David Lee, UGA’s vice president for research. “It is a tribute to the quality of our students and programs that so many UGA students or alumni won these awards in the latest cycle.”

“Reviewers are looking for the best and the brightest-those with the potential for leadership in their fields of study,” said Gisèle Muller-Parker, program director for the GRFP. Since the program’s inception in 1952, 30 Fellows have gone on to become Nobel Laureates.

The nine recipients who earned their bachelor degrees at UGA were also either part of the UGA Honors Program or participated in the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

“I congratulate these students on this significant recognition of their work,” said David Williams, director of the Honors Program. “I am pleased to note that so many of them began their research careers as undergraduates at UGA with the support of the Honors Program and CURO. The NSF grants will support them as they continue their academic pursuits.”

The UGA Fellows are:

College of Agricultural and Environmental Science

Ashley Ann Babcock, Cumming, Ga. Ashley earned undergraduate degrees in biological engineering and romance languages while at UGA. As an undergraduate she was also named a Richard B. Russell Leadership Fellow. She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in biological and agricultural engineering at UGA.

Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Kerin E. Bentley, Wilmington, N.C. Kerin earned her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University and is now a first-year doctoral student in the UGA genetics department, where she is studying the evolution of mating systems between closely related invasive plant species.

Carla Hadden, Daytona Beach, Fla. Carla is working at UGA on a doctorate in environmental anthropology. For her project, she hopes to identify major hurricane events in the archaeological record of the Gulf of Mexico and measure their effects on resources and site occupation.

Holly Jarrell, Rome, Ga. Holly graduated summa cum laude from UGA with a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a bachelor of arts degree in English. She will receive her fellowship while pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego.

Cynthia Krafft, Woodruff, S.C. Cynthia earned her undergraduate degree in experimental psychology at the University of South Carolina at Columbia and came to UGA to earn a doctorate in cognitive psychology. Her project, “Exercise and overweight children’s cognition,” is part of an ongoing study she is conducting with other researchers at UGA and the Medical College of Georgia.

Joseph Lanning, Rochester, N.Y. Joseph earned his master’s degree in global history from the University of Rochester and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi before coming to the University of Georgia. He is currently working toward a doctorate in anthropology at UGA, examining how households that share land in rural Malawi adjust their livelihood strategies in reaction to new irrigation technology introduced by international development agencies.

Sarah Sander, Danville, Calif. Sarah graduated from Amherst College, Mass., and is pursuing a doctorate in genetics at UGA. She is studying the effect of chronic environmental contamination on genetic diversity in frog populations.

Laura J. Simpson, Suwanee, Ga. Laura earned undergraduate degrees in biology and Spanish at UGA. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in biomedical sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, focusing on immunology and microbiology.While at UGA, Simpson received the Charter scholarship, was a First Honor Graduate, and also published research she conducted with UGA researchers Rick L. Tarleton and Angel Padilla in the Journal of Immunology.

Jennifer Ann Taylor, Florence, Ala. Jennifer was a triple major at UGA, earning bachelor of science degrees in microbiology, cellular biology and biochemistry and molecular biology. She will pursue a doctorate in microbiology at the University of Washington. Taylor was a Foundation Fellow at UGA, and also has recently accepted a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense.

Traci Tucker, Roswell, Ga. Traci graduated from UGA summa cum laude with highest honors in sociology and psychology. While at UGA she also received the Clarke International Scholarship and a Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Summer Research Fellowship. Her NSF fellowship will help her pursue a doctorate in sociology at Stanford University.

Odum School of Ecology

Carolyn Keogh, Tampa, Fla. Carolyn earned her undergraduate degree in biology and environmental studies at Emory University and is pursuing a doctorate in ecology at UGA. Her fellowship will support her research on the effects of reduced parasitism on the population dynamics of invasive marine invertebrates.

Virginia Schutte, Morehead, Ky. Virginia is enrolled in the ecology doctoral program at UGA, focusing on the effects of nutrient pollution on mangrove ecosystems. In addition to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Schutte also recently received fellowships from the NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

Terry College of Business

Long Doan, Savannah, Ga. Long received an undergraduate degree in international business at UGA and is pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology at Indiana University. While at UGA, Doan also completed a thesis which received the Odum Award for best undergraduate paper from the Southern Sociological Society.

Those receiving an honorable mention may conduct research for a full year using the TeraGrid, the world’s largest connected group of high-performance computers. Four honorable mention recipients attended the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences as undergraduates: Jennifer Andrea Bartmess, linguistics; Allison Eury, psychology; Britnie R. Foutch, plant biology; and Charles A. Schutte, marine sciences. Two honorable mention recipients attended the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: Angela L. Zachman, biological engineering, and Douglas M. Eudy, crop and soil sciences. Honorable mention recipient Ernest Osburn earned dual bachelor of science degrees at UGA in ecology, Odum School of Ecology, and biology, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Some recipients applied for the fellowship more than once. Last year, Long Doan, Holly M. Jarrell, Traci Tucker, and Cynthia Krafft each received an honorable mention. This was Virginia Schutte’s third time applying and her last year of eligibility for the fellowship. Her advice to applicants: “Don’t get discouraged, start very early so you can revise often, look at examples of past winners’ proposals, and try to make everything as clean and clear as possible.”

“Start early,” agreed Muller-Parker. “Have many people review your essays, and give your reference writers the appropriate information. The most frequent mistake applicants make is not putting in the effort and time needed to make their applications competitive.”