Four current graduate students were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship to support their graduate studies at UMass Amherst. The Fellowship provides a $34,000 stipend for three years, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance to the institution.
According to NSF, the Graduate Research Fellowship is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind and the program “has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.”
The four new NSF Fellows join 33 active Fellows at UMass Amherst, along with a number of fellowship alumni who are completing their degree programs. For three of the last five years, UMass Amherst has been awarded the third highest number of NSF Graduate Research Fellowships in Massachusetts, behind only MIT and Harvard.
Figueredo is a second year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Irvine in 2018, majoring in Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies. Her current research interests focus on family, gender, care work, and immigration, with an emphasis on the work of au pairs in the United States; this work grew out of her personal experiences as an immigrant domestic worker in the United States. Figueredo elected to attend a graduate program at UMass Amherst for the opportunity to work with leading faculty in her research areas, her program’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research, and unique resources such as the Labor Center and the Political Economy Research Institute.
Figueredo says she is grateful to receive the NSF Fellowship because it allows her “freedom to work on what I am passionate about and accomplish a great research project, one that will serve others like myself who have struggled and envision research that is about and for them.”
Gonzalez is a second year PhD student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Psychology. Gonzalez chose UMass Amherst for graduate study to work with Dr. Tara Mandalaywala; she was additionally drawn to the flexibility of the graduate program in Psychological and Brain Sciences.
Gonzalez plans to conduct research on the development of children's knowledge and navigation of race in the United States and institutional and structural racisms, with the desire to facilitate safe public and learning spaces for children. In addition to the research flexibility and financial support provided by the fellowship, Gonzalez says she plans to take advantage of unique opportunities open to Fellowship recipients, such as the NSF INTERN program to explore hands-on applications of her research.
Grogan is a second year PhD student in the Department of Sociology. She received a bachelor’s degree in Physics from MIT and chose to enter a graduate program at UMass after working for several decades. Despite her undergraduate focus on physics, Grogan says she was drawn to sociology and cites the support and opportunities provided by the Department of Sociology for her decision to enroll at UMass. She says she was also excited by the opportunity to work with faculty pursuing different methods and theoretical traditions within the discipline.
Grogan plans to pursue research on disability identity and culture; she says, “support from the fellowship will allow me the time and freedom to focus more completely on my research over the coming years, especially once I am done with my coursework.”
Howell is a second year PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Howell earned a BS in biomedical engineering and mathematics from Tufts University and plans to pursue research at UMass focused on bacterial therapies of cancer, specifically looking at immune activity in tumors from delivery of proteins with Salmonella.
Howell decided to pursue a PhD at UMass Amherst because of the research opportunities available in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the culture of the department. Howell says they value the NSF Fellowship because of the flexibility it provides, along with greater ability to focus on research.
The Graduate School Office of Professional Development offers a number of events to help students prepare NSF GRFP applications. Seniors planning to attend graduate school starting in 2022, along with current graduate students in their first or second year, may be eligible to apply. Review NSF’s GRFP website for eligibility criteria and additional information. Contact Heidi Bauer-Clapp in the Office of Professional Development with questions.