A Record Number from LSU Receive National Science Foundation 2016 Graduate Research Fellowships



Katie Hogan, a senior from Choudrant, La., and Mollie Smoak, a senior from Lafayette, La., are two of this year's record 10 NSF Graduate Research Fellows from LSU.LSU

BATON ROUGE – LSU had a record high of 10 current students or recent graduates recognized by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, as 2016 Graduate Research Fellows, and nine others received honorable mention.

NSF named 2,000 individuals as this year’s recipients of the graduate fellow awards, which provide three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period – a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution. That support is for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering.

“The Graduate Research Fellowship Program is a vital part of our efforts to foster and promote excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics by recognizing talent broadly from across the Nation,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF assistant director for Education and Human Resources. “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.”

Awardees – chosen from close to 17,000 applicants – represent a diverse group of scientific disciplines and from all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. commonwealths and territories. The group is diverse, including 1,077 women; 424 individuals from underrepresented minority groups; 62 persons with disabilities; 35 veterans; and 627 senior undergraduates.

The new fellows come from 488 baccalaureate institutions – 104 more institutions than in 2010, when GRFP began awarding 2,000 fellowships each year.

This year’s fellows from LSU include:

  • Mollie Smoak, a senior in biological engineering and member of the Ogden Honors College from Lafayette, La. Smoak, a 2015 Goldwater Scholar, is a member of the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program and will graduate as a CxC Distinguished Communicator. She plans to attend graduate school at Rice University in bioengineering.
  • AshLee Smith, an Ogden Honors College May 2015 graduate in anthropology from Walker, La. She is currently attending graduate school at Cornell University in political science.
  • Kurt Ristroph, a senior double majoring in chemical engineering and classical studies and a member of the Ogden Honors College from Baton Rouge, La. Ristroph, an LSU Discover Scholar, will graduate as a CxC Distinguished Communicator. He plans to attend graduate school in bioengineering.
  • Edward Lo, a December 2013 Ogden Honors College and College of Science graduate from Atlanta, Ga. At LSU, Lo was part of the LA-STEM Research Scholars program, the Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars program and the Marathon Geoscience Diversity Enrichment program. He currently attends graduate school at the University of Kentucky in geosciences – paleoclimate.
  • Daniel Lepkowski, a senior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering from Virginia Beach, Va. Lepkowski plans to attend graduate school in electrical and electronic engineering.
  • Jennifer Kenyon, an Ogden Honors College senior majoring in geology from Marrero, La. Kenyon is a member of the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program and will graduate as a CxC Distinguished Communicator. She plans to attend graduate school at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in geochemistry.
  • Katie Hogan, an Ogden Honors College senior majoring in biological engineering from Choudrant, La. Hogan, a 2015 Goldwater Scholar honorable mention, is a member of the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program and will graduate as a CxC Distinguished Communicator. She plans to pursue an MD/Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University.  
  • Jordan Croy, an August 2015 Ogden Honors College and College of Science graduate from Elikins Park, Pa. Croy currently attends graduate school at the University of California – Irvine in life sciences – ecology.
  • Milcah Jackson, a graduate of the University of Mississippi from Canton, Miss. She is currently in graduate school at LSU in chemistry and is an NSF/LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow.
  • Oscar Johnson, a graduate of the University of California-Santa Cruz from Santa Barbara, Calif. He is currently in graduate school at LSU in life sciences – evolutionary biology.


Six current LSU graduate students and three recent graduates received honorable mention:

  • Katelyn McCoy, a senior majoring in psychology and member of the LSU Ogden Honors College from Lake Charles, La.
  • Michelle Laterrade, a senior majoring in biological and agricultural engineering from Ponchatoula, La.
  • Christina Davis, a December 2013 graduate of the LSU College of Science from Gonzales, La. She is currently attending graduate school for astronomy and astrophysics at Vanderbilt University.
  • Katherine Crocker, an Ogden Honors College May 2014 graduate in chemistry from Little Rock, Ark. She currently attends graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in chemistry.
  • Amanda Cooper, an Ogden Honors College December 2014 graduate in biological sciences 2014 from Bogalusa, La. She currently attends graduate school at the University of Utah in life sciences – organismal biology.
  • Hope Asala, a graduate of the University of Lagos from Delta State, Nigeria. He is currently in graduate school at LSU in petroleum engineering.
  • Genevieve Mount, a graduate of the University of California-Davis in evolution, ecology and biodiversity from Santa Cruz, Calif. She is currently in graduate school at LSU in life sciences – systematics and biodiversity.
  • Amie Settlecowski, a graduate of Tulane University from Jackson, N.J. She is currently in graduate school at LSU in life sciences – evolutionary biology.
  • Chunwa Kei, a graduate of Bridgewater State College from Boston, Mass. He is currently in graduate school at LSU in chemistry.

NSF has posted a complete list of those offered this fellowship for 2016, and general information on GRFP is available on the program’s website.

The rigorous NSF GRFP application includes submission of a research proposal. Many of the LSU fellows honored this year participated in the annual NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application workshop, hosted by the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL, and Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC.

This three-part series workshop – led by Cliff and Nancy Spanier Alumni Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Director of CCELL Marybeth Lima, Donald & Norma Nash McClure Alumni Professor in English Sarah Liggett, Cajun Constructors Professor in Construction Management Carol Friedland, and CxC Science Coordinator Becky Carmichael – has provided comprehensive training on developing exceptional applications.

“Congratulations to our fellows and honorable mentions – receiving such prestigious, national recognition is testament to the outstanding research accomplishments and outreach activities of our undergraduate and graduate students,” Lima said.

About GRFP
Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. GRFP is critical to NSF's overall strategy of developing the globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

A high priority for NSF and GRFP is increasing the diversity of the science and engineering workforce, including geographic distribution, and the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans. GRFP offers fellowship awards directly to applicants selected through a national competition.

Fellows have opportunities for international research collaborations through the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide, or GROW, initiative, and professional career development with federal internships provided through the Graduate Research Internship Program, or GRIP. GRFP also supports NSF's Career-Life Balance Initiative (NSF 13-099).

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information on the Graduate Research Fellowship, visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org/.

LSU College of Science
The LSU College of Science is an international leader in scientific research and instruction, elevating LSU to the highest level of excellence among major research universities in the U.S. and abroad. The college consists of five academic departments including biological sciences, chemistry, geology & geophysics, mathematics, and physics & astronomy, and the LSU Museum of Natural Science. Seven major fields of study and more than 20 concentrations are available to LSU students interested in pursuing a science major at LSU. College of Science students make up nearly half of LSU’s top graduates. For more information on LSU’s College of Science, visit science.lsu.edu.

LSU College of Engineering
Founded in 1908, the LSU College of Engineering offers 11 undergraduate degree programs and confers approximately 650 bachelor’s degrees per year, ranking it in the top 10 percent nationally for graduates. Faculty members engage in education, research, and commercialization with a strategic focus on research indigenous to Louisiana: energy, manufacturing, natural & built infrastructure, computation and biotechnology. For more information about LSU's College of Engineering visit www.eng.lsu.edu.

LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College
The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Honors College typically admits the top 10 percent of incoming LSU freshmen, and provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.

LA-STEM Research Scholars Program & NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Initiative
The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program and Bridge to Doctorate Initiative are managed by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives. OSI’s vision is to support the high achievements of LSU students, faculty, and staff through education, mentoring and research. LA-STEM provides comprehensive training to scholars in preparation for doctoral programs. Bridge to Doctorate encourages and supports underrepresented students to pursue STEM Ph.D. degrees.

The LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership promotes learning, student leadership and community engagement through service-learning activities and community partnerships. For more information, visit www.lsu.edu/ccell.

As the first program of its kind in the nation, LSU Communication across the Curriculum works with LSU faculty to train, mentor and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional skills in written, spoken, visual and technological communication. For more information, visit www.cxc.lsu.edu.

McNair Research Scholars
University College’s McNair Research Scholars program, funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education TRIO, promotes a new cohort of scholars that more accurately reflects the emergent diversity in life experiences, cultures and perspectives represented in academia by preparing students who are first-generation, low-income and underrepresented in graduate education for doctoral studies. McNair Research Scholars connects LSU undergraduate students with faculty-directed research experiences, provides individualized advisement and foster knowledge of the graduate school application process.  Student scholars conduct research under the mentorship of some of the most distinguished faculty in the country and communicate the results of their work through publications and workshops.



Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations