The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF) were awarded to two North Dakota State students for their research and teaching potential.
Kurt Williams, a second-year doctoral student in zoology, and Anna Renner, a senior in chemistry and biochemistry, were awarded these fellowships that are given to incoming and early graduate students. The NSF said they anticipate they will “become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovation in science and engineering.”
According to the NSF website, the organization is the oldest fellowship program that directly supports graduate students pursuing many different fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
NSF has funded over 50,000 graduate research fellowships out of 500,000 applicants. Seventy percent of the fellows completed their Ph.D. in under 11 years. Over 450 of recipients have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. Forty-two of them have gone on to become Nobel laureates.
Williams and Renner both took the “Writing for Scholars, Fellows and Researchers,” course that helps create the fellowship application and provides an understanding of how to fill grants and fellowships in the future.
Williams and Renner applied for the fellowship last fall by writing a three-page personal statement and a two-page research proposal. They also provided information about their field of study, education, work experience, significant academic honors, fellowships, scholarships, publications and presentations.
The applicants also had faculty mentors submit reference letters for them. The NSF then reviewed the applications on the basis of their “intellectual merit” and “broader impacts” criteria. Renner said she specifically addressed each of these in her application.
“I would encourage them (NDSU students) to participate in UNIV 440, Writing for Scholars, Fellows and Researchers, which is a one-credit class that focuses on writing the personal statement and research proposal required for the fellowship application,” Renner said.
Renner said the class is very helpful and even if she didn’t receive the fellowship she still would have benefited greatly from what she learned through the class and the application process.
“My area of research, synthetic organic chemistry, has applications in the development of new drugs, agrochemicals and materials that have the potential to benefit society,” Renner said.” I’m very thankful for the research and academic opportunities I’ve had at NDSU that have contributed to my education and enabled me to be a competitive applicant.”
Ryan Callahan, a senior in microbiology, also won an Honorable Mention for the fellowship.