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UB continues success of NSG Graduate Research Fellowship Program – UB Now: News and Views for UB Faculty and Staff

Five UB students and one alumnus have received prestigious scholarships from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship program, along with five honorable mentions recognizing current students and alumni.

The latest awards extend UB’s success by placing its students among the winners of the GRFP scholarship program. Launched in 1952, GRFP represents the nation’s oldest continuous investment in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. As one of the most competitive academic programs in the United States, it recruits high-potential early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training.

Scholars receive an annual stipend of $34,000 for three years, plus $12,000 per year for three years to cover tuition. In total, each scholar will receive up to $138,000. They are also eligible to participate in international research and career development programs offered by the NSF.

Alumni include some of the country’s most notable scientists, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin and former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as well as dozens of Nobel laureates and hundreds of members of the US national academies.

The UB scholarship recipients were among 2,000 nationally selected from more than 12,000 applicants in 2022.

“The NSF Senior Fellowship is great recognition of recipients’ achievements and their potential for further impact in their research fields,” says Ashlee N. Ford Versypt, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“Furthermore, the number of winners and honorable mentions reflects UB’s outstanding research environment.”

UB students and recent graduates who received the GRFP are:

Riley Bray Blasiak

A civil and environmental engineering graduate, Riley Bray Blasiak will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall to pursue a doctorate in the field of water resources. While at UB, she was heavily involved with ASCE’s steel bridge and concrete canoe teams. As a project manager, she led both teams to national competitions. Ms. Blasiak says she “hopes her research and community involvement will have an impact on how people view water quality issues and the use of green infrastructure.”

Grant R. Hecht

Grant Hecht is a graduate student in aerospace engineering, specializing in the design and optimization of trajectories in cislunar and interplanetary space for single and multiple spacecraft missions. He is also a student at NASA Pathways in the Navigation and Mission Design branch of NASA Goddard, where he participates in the path design and optimization process for robotic spaceflight missions.

Anoop Kiran

An aerospace engineering graduate, Anoop Kiran was an undergraduate research assistant studying unsteady aerodynamics at the University of DRiFT Laboratory. He was also a math and physics tutor with Academic Support Services and a college ambassador for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is passionate about combining computer modeling and simulation with real-world testing and engineering. Kiran aspires to serve in a national laboratory and will be pursuing his doctorate in engineering at Brown University, specializing in bio-inspired robotics for aerospace applications. Outside of academia, he enjoys flying, hiking and playing soccer.

Austin Marga

A graduate with a double major in physics and mathematics and a minor in linguistics and Chinese, Austin Marga’s research interests focus on the synthesis and characterization of novel nanomaterials for use in solar cells. He will go to Northwestern University to pursue a doctorate in physics. Marga began physics research during the winter of her freshman year, synthesizing transition metal dichalcogenides to the thickness of an atomic layer under the guidance of her advisor, Hao Zeng, a professor of physics. He previously worked with linguistics professor Karin Michelson on computer modeling of Oneida, a critically endangered Native American language from upstate New York. Marga has also worked as a University Ambassador for the Department of Physics and as a tour guide for the Office of Admissions.

isys johnson

Isys Johnson is a graduate student in computer science.

Justin Page

Justin Page is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley; he graduated from UB with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Five UB students and alumni have received NSF GRFP honorable mentions: Zachary Apolitograduate student in anthropology; Evan Chugha graduate student in computer science and engineering; Kimberly Louisora graduate student studying evolution; Stephanie Ann Stewart-Hill, currently a graduate student at Ohio State University who studied psychology at UB; and Liz-Audry Kounatse Djomnang, currently a graduate student at Cornell University who studied Biomedical Engineering at UB.