Science SuccessGAMBIER, Ohio (November 15, 2010)
The National Science Foundation has awarded four Kenyon graduates the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship for science and engineering research. The fellowships support outstanding graduate students with a three-year annual stipend of $30,000; an allowance for tuition and fees of $10,500; and a one-time travel allowance of $1,000.
The winners, their graduate programs, and research interests are as follows:
Sarah F. Hillenbrand '07, major: neuroscience, philosophy; Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of California, Berkeley; brain function in motor-sensory integration
Katherine E. Schroer '08, major: anthropology ; Center for Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University; pre-molar development in primates and fossil humans
Elizabeth D. Carlton '09, major: biology; Evolution, Ecology & Behavior Graduate Program, Indiana University; immune systems responses among birds
Michael L. Machala '09, major: synoptic; Currently a Henry Luce Foundation Scholar at the Lao Institute for Renewable Energy in Vientiane, Laos, next year Michael will study material science engineering and work on low-cost solar cells at Stanford University.
The fellowships give students the freedom to conduct their own research at accredited institutions. "This is exciting," Carlton said, "because it basically supports me for three years so I can do my research. It gives me a lot of flexibility and time to do field work and complete my dissertation." Hillenbrand added, "It makes me a lot more independent. I can do research on my own terms instead of taking on whatever projects need to be done in the lab."
The program favors proposals that promise to advance the nation's technological infrastructure, national security, and the economic well being of society. "They like innovation," Schroer said. "They want something that is going to push the field forward." Past fellows include more than thirty Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. Since 1952, the program has awarded more than 46,500 fellowships from among more than 500,000 applicants.
The students praised their liberal arts background at Kenyon with its interdisciplinary approach to science and opportunities for research. "When it was time to come up with an idea for this fellowship, I already had so much practice in thinking critically and creatively about the scientific process," Carlton said.