Published: May 6, 2002

10 MSU students receive NSF graduate research fellowships

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded fellowships of $21,500 per year for three years, plus tuition, to 10 Michigan State University students for use in their graduate research.

The fellowships were awarded to three MSU seniors graduating this spring, two previous MSU graduates and five current MSU graduate students. Since 1970, MSU has had more than 200 NSF fellows and many honorable mentions.

The NSF fellowships are awarded in two categories: intellectual merit and the impact of the research. Included in those categories are considerations for grade point average, letters of recommendation, Graduate Record Examination scores, potential research contributions to the nation and the proposed plan of study.

A unique aspect of this award is it gives students the flexibility to change institutions or field of study during the five years they have to use the three-year stipend.

"NSF fellows are citizen scientists who are participating in discovery across a wide range of research problems," said Eric Sheppard, director of NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. "They are tackling and addressing a wide variety of hot research topics in science and engineering that have many applications for their communities and nation."

Since the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program began in 1952, more than 35,000 fellows have been selected, among them several who were later named Nobel Prize winners.

Three MSU graduating seniors received the fellowship:

Casey Leigh McGovern of Toledo, Ohio, is a senior with dual degrees in zoology and human biology. She plans to attend graduate school at MSU. She was a professorial assistant for two years and a Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Scholar her junior and senior years. McGovern will use her fellowship toward gaining a doctorate in zoology. After graduate school, she plans to join the pharmaceutical industry in marketing or sales.

Robin Stephanie Stein of North Hollywood, Calif., is a senior with dual degrees in chemistry and interdisciplinary humanities. She plans on attending graduate school at the California Institute of Technology to study chemistry. At MSU, she won the National Merit Recognition Award and was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Camillia Smith, of East Lansing is graduating with master's and bachelor of science degrees in mathematics from Lyman Briggs School and bachelor of arts degrees in English and French. Next year she will study mathematics at Cambridge University on a Churchill Scholarship and the following year will enter a doctoral program in mathematics, possibly at Harvard. At MSU, she was a member of the Honors College and Golden Key International Honors Society and studied abroad in France, Russia, Israel and England. She taught and tutored in math as a graduate assistant and won numerous scholarships and awards for academic excellence.

Five current MSU graduate students received the fellowship:

Rebecca Marie Cline of Portage is a doctoral student in environmental engineering who plans to attend Clemson University in South Carolina. She transferred to MSU from the Naval Academy as a junior and graduated in 2001.

Meghan Anne Duffy of Delton is a doctoral student studying zoology at MSU and has a degree in evolution from Cornell University.

Frances Nichol Knapczyk of Bloomington, Ind., is a doctoral student studying evolutionary biology and plant biology after receiving two bachelor of science degrees in geology and biology from Indiana University at Bloomington last year. At MSU, she is a member of the Golden Key and Phi Beta Kappa National honor societies and a recipient of a University Distinguished Fellowship. She will use the NSF fellowship to research plant evolutionary ecology. Her plans include teaching and research in higher education.

Hannah-Hanh Dung Nguyen of Garden Grove, Calif., is a master's student in psychology at MSU and has a degree in industrial psychology from California State University in Long Beach.

Heather Elizabeth Watts of Ridgewood, N.J., is a doctoral student studying zoology at MSU after receiving a degree in animal behavior from Duke University in North Carolina. She is researching behavioral ecology in the Department of Zoology and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program. In her academic career she has received a University Distinguished Fellowship from MSU, graduated with distinction and magna cum laude at Duke University and was awarded a Sigma Xi membership last year. Her plans include research and teaching in higher education.

Two previous MSU graduates received the fellowship:

Errett Charles Hobbs of Fenton graduated from MSU in 2001 with bachelor of science degrees in biochemistry/biotechnology and physiology. He is attending graduate school at Harvard University where he is working on his doctorate in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. At MSU, he graduated with high honors and was the recipient of the Department of Physiology Undergraduate Research Award, Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Scholarship, Alumni Distinguished Scholarship and National Merit Scholarship. His proposed field of study is in developmental biology, and he aspires to run his own laboratory at a major university or research institute.

Philip James D'Anieri received his degree in urban and regional planning from MSU in 1990.

For more information on the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, visit the Web at