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Stony Brook Students Snare Four NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awards
Highly Sought-After Grants Support Outstanding STEM Graduate Students
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Pictured left to right:  Marisa Lim (Ecology and Evolution), Micah Mumper (Psychology), Dara Bobb-Semple (Chemistry) and Stephen Lee (Biomedical and Engineering)

STONY BROOK, NY, April 28, 2014 – The results of the 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition are in, and four Stony Brook University students—cited for their research potential—have been announced as winners of the coveted slots. This year’s competition attracted a record 15,000 applicants from among the nation’s top STEM graduate students; 2000 awards were made across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"I am pleased, but not surprised, by the success of our four outstanding graduate students in gaining this prestigious NSF fellowship award," said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., President of Stony Brook University.

The award winners are Dara Bobb-Semple in Chemistry, Stephen K. Lee in Biomedical Engineering, Marisa Lim in Ecology & Evolution, and Micah Mumper in Psychology/Cognitive Science. The award is portable, and provides a yearly stipend of $32,000 for each of 3 years.

“The Office of the Vice President of Research [OVPR] is delighted to congratulate Stony Brook’s four NSF Graduate Research Fellowship winners for 2014,” says David O. Conover, Interim Vice President for Research at Stony Brook University. “The NSF Graduate Fellowships are the most prestigious student awards, and among the most competitive in any category funded by NSF. We are exceedingly proud of our student award winners and honorable mentions.”

The students are thrilled. Mumper is “humbled by this award, and honored to be recognized for my research.” Lim is glad she persisted. “This wasn’t the first time I applied, so my first reaction was, I’m glad I didn’t give up!” Says Lee, “Receiving the fellowship means I will get to continue my research interests. I also have less financial constraints, allowing me to continue coverage activities, such as teaching science and engineering to elementary students.”

“The fellowship is awarded to students at the beginning of their research careers who show outstanding promise in their intellectual merit, in the broader impacts of their work to benefit society, and in their ability to strengthen and diversify the nation’s scientific workforce,” explains Susan Brennan, Graduate Director of Psychology, and Professor of Psychology, Computer Science, and Linguistics. Brennan is a member of the OVPR Research Advisory Committee, and serves as an advisor to applicants.

Lee, Lim, and Mumper plan to use their awards within their graduate programs at Stony Brook; Bobb-Semple will do her research at Stanford University. At least one incoming Ph.D. student, Sarah Bannon—currently at the University of Iowa—will utilize her award at Stony Brook, in Psychology.

Ten Stony Brook students also won Honorable Mention (among 1920 honorably mentioned students across the United States). They are: Amber Bonds (Pharmacology), Nicole Calma (Psychology/Psycholinguistics), Santiago Cassalett (Anthropology), David Charifson (Ecology & Evolution), Moises Guardado (Genetics), Anna Gura-Krasniqi (Physics), Irvin Huang (SOMAS/Oceanography), Roxanne Moadel-Attie (Psychology/Social), Vihitaben Patel (Biomedical Engineering), and Rafal Piersiak (Physics & Astronomy). 

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program was established in 1952 to help ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforce its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. Forty winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

The freedom to choose a research direction is the precious gift the fellowship bestows. Award winner Dara Bobb-Semple, who will focus her research on chemical catalysis, says, “The NSF fellowship gives me the flexibility to pursue my interests, and to choose a mentor while in graduate school. A friend of mine compares it to having wings, and I completely agree.”