Of the 2,000 students across the nation to receive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, 35 are University of Arizona students or alumni.
Including the newly awarded NSF fellowships, 50 of the new and continuing NSF Graduate Research Fellows plan to attend graduate school at the UA in the fall – a record number for the University.
"We are tremendously proud of these students," said Andrew Carnie, interim dean of the UA Graduate College.
"This fellowship is given with the recognition that these future scientists will be called on to address the nation's – and the world's – challenges and opportunities," Carnie said. "We look forward to the discoveries and innovations that will come from their work."
The competitive NSF fellowships are awarded to outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.
Awardees receive three years of support, which includes a stipend of $30,000 as well as a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000. The total value of each award exceeds $130,000. In addition, awardees are eligible to receive support for international research experiences.
Among the recipients is Patricia Gonzales, who will use her fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in environmental engineering. Her research focuses on understanding the transport of metal contaminants in atmospheric dust originating from mine tailings and, thereby, contributes to understanding an important environmental concern for the Southwest.
Another fellow, Luke Parsons, aims to improve understanding of drought in the Amazon region.
Parsons is a graduate student in the department of geosciences, and his work involves using climate models and analyzing sediments from lakes in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador to better define the history of drought and influences on drought in Amazonia. Parsons said he hopes his work will contribute to establishing a better baseline of drought risk in a region that provides a key reservoir of biodiversity and an important carbon sink for the planet.
Linnea Herbertson, a graduate student in the department of soil, water and environmental sciences, also earned a fellowship.
Of this year's recipients at the UA, 75 percent percent participated in a pilot program designed by the Graduate College to support applicants to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
Applicants received regular emails with advice, feedback on their essays and opportunities for personal interaction with current awardees.
Herbertson was among them.
"I am very grateful for the help of the Graduate College NSF workshops in helping me to succeed in obtaining the NSF fellowship," Herbertson said.
Under the advisement of professor Raina Maier, Herbertson's research focuses on studying root-microbe interactions, particularly the bacterial colonization of plant roots. She expects her research to have practical implications for improving the revegetation of mine-tailings.
In addition to the 35 awardees, 38 students associated with the UA received Honorable Mention in the competition, a significant academic achievement.
"We are pleased with the success of the Graduate Research Fellowship Application Support Program," said Georgia Ehlers, who directs the Office of Fellowships and Community Relations in the UA Graduate College.
"We aim to continue to encourage more UA students to apply for this fellowship and to increase the strength of applications from the UA."