18 Johns Hopkins students named NSF Graduate Research Fellows

The National Science Foundation has selected 2,000 Graduate Research Fellows from across the country, including 18 current Johns Hopkins University students. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who pursue research-based post-baccalaureate degrees at accredited institutions.

The GRF is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind and has a storied history of selecting high-achieving recipients. Forty-two fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These awards are provided to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements, and they are investments that will help propel this country's future innovations and economic growth," says Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF assistant director for education and human resources.

Fellows receive three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period—an annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees paid to the institution. They will have opportunities for international research and professional development, and will have the freedom to conduct their own research.

Since 1952, NSF has funded close to 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships and reviewed more than half a million applications. For the 2016 cohort, the NSF received close to 17,000 applications.

The 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship scholars from Johns Hopkins University are:

  • Jonathan Augustin, from Maryville College, is a PhD candidate in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology program. Jonathan aims to gain a better understanding of the roles that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play in neurodevelopment and is pursuing his work under the guidance of Loyal Goff. He hopes to continue pursuing related questions in academia, wherever that may lead.

  • Glenn Balbus, from Johns Hopkins University, is a senior graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Glenn has done research in mechanical properties of materials for extreme environments, predominantly for use in aerospace or energy generation applications. He is also captain of the men's fencing team at JHU. In the fall Glenn will pursue a PhD in materials science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

  • Shawn Costello, from Johns Hopkins University, is a senior graduating with a degree in biophysics. Shawn has performed research in Karen Fleming's laboratory in the Department of Biophysics. Shawn's research has focused on the kinetics of bacterial outer membrane protein biogenesis. In the fall Shawn will begin a PhD in biophysics at the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Kate Fischl, from Princeton University, is a PhD candidate in electrical and computer engineering. She is interested in neurotechnology, social neuroscience and understanding and modeling emotion and collective social behavior. Through collaboration with Katalin Gothard at the University of Arizona, she is analyzing data from Rhesus monkeys in social situations. She worked at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the Bioengineering Systems and Technologies Group designing wearable medical monitoring systems and has co-founded a resource group for female ECE/CS graduate students.

  • Abigail Fuchsman, from Bard College, is a PhD candidate in the Cell, Molecular, Developmental Biology, and Biophysics Program, working in Mark Van Doren's Lab. Abigail is studying sexual dimorphism using Drosophila, the fruit fly, as a model system. Abigail is focused on the cell signals involved in the regulation of the sex-specific gonad niches necessary to maintain germ cell populations.

  • Carley Heck, from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, is a PhD candidate in pharmacology and molecular sciences. Carley is a member of Namandje Bumpus' lab, in which she studies the metabolism and mechanisms of toxicity of drugs used to treat HIV. As an active member of her department, Carley works with other pharmacology students as a part of the Pharmacology Student Initiative, to provide a supportive learning and networking environment for graduate students, foster departmental camaraderie, and lead the department in community outreach activities.

  • Michael Howland, from Johns Hopkins University, is a graduating senior with degrees in mechanical engineering and applied math. He has worked on energy grid integration and fluid mechanics focusing on wind energy resources with Ben Hobbs and Charles Meneveau. He has been a visiting researcher at Iowa State, KU Leuven, Belgium, and EPFL in Switzerland and has attended a number of international conferences. In the fall he will begin a PhD program at Stanford University's Department of Mechanical Engineering.

  • Aurelia Mapps, from Sam Houston State University, is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Cellular, Molecular, Developmental Biology, and Biophysics. Aurelia has done research in breast development and cranial evolution of gecko skulls. After obtaining a degree in biomedical science, Aurelia recently finished a post-baccalaureate program at the University of California Santa Cruz. In the fall, Aurelia plans to join a lab and begin her thesis work.

  • Sean Murphy, from the University of Washington, is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering in Chulan Kwon's Heart Generation and Regeneration Laboratory, which studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing heart development and regeneration. Sean is currently investigating the role of microRNAs in maturation and their application to developing new therapies for heart disease. Read more about Sean in BME News

  • Elizabeth Park, from the University of Oklahoma, is a PhD candidate in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Elizabeth currently works on the development of small molecules to inhibit key biological processes in cells that give rise to cancer. Elizabeth aspires to be a principal investigator working at the interface of chemistry and biology to develop target-specific drugs and therapeutic agents.

  • Michael Pokrass, from the University of Virginia, will study genetics.

  • Caitlin Pozmanter, from McDaniel College, is a PhD candidate in biology. She works in Mark Van Doren's lab studying sexual dimorphism in Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). Specifically she is interested in how RNA regulation affects germline sexual identity and fertility.

  • Yuan Rui, from the University of Oklahoma, is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering. Yuan currently works in the Biomaterials and Drug Delivery Lab of Jordan Green. She is interested in developing novel polymeric nanoparticles for gene delivery applications in cancer treatment. Read more about Yuan in BME News

  • Sam Schaffter, from Purdue University, is a PhD candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering and works in Rebecca Schulman's lab. His current research focuses on implementing biological logic to control nanomaterials with the goal of creating devices which can heal themselves. Sam is an avid educator and aspires to be a professor upon completion of his graduate work.

  • Calla Shubin, from Cornell University, is a PhD student in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology graduate program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Callie has recently joined the Greider lab to pursue her thesis work on the regulation of telomerase in yeast. When not in lab, she enjoys giving back to her community through the organizations, Thread and Moveable Feast. She plans to continue to pursue her passions of science and volunteering after graduate school by leading programs that bring disadvantaged youth into the laboratory.

  • Jaclyn Smith, from North Carolina State University, is a graduate student in the Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology program. She currently is rotating in Shan Sockanathan's laboratory where she is studying the effect of a collection of proteins, the 6-transmembrane GDEs, on cellular differentiation and degeneration in the nervous system. Jaclyn also has a passion for sharing science with the public and has been involved with science outreach at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for over a decade.

  • Caroline Vissers, from UC-Davis, is a PhD student in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. She recently joined Hongjun Song's lab in the Institute for Cell Engineering, where she works on understanding the role of RNA modifications (termed epitranscriptomics) in neurogenesis. Caroline's goal is to elucidate mechanisms underlying neural development and stem cell differentiation while developing new technologies that will catalyze the progression of science.

  • Joseph Yu, from Rice University, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Institute for Computational Medicine. After graduating from Rice with a degree in chemical engineering, Joseph spent a year as a visiting researcher at Imperial College London conducting research in cardiac regeneration with the support of a Whitaker International Fellowship. At Hopkins, Joseph studies how genetic variability among myocytes in the heart can lead to arrhythmia in the lab of Natalia Trayanova. Read more about Joseph in BME News