Five SBS Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced this year’s recipients of Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF). Graduate students at the University of Arizona received 14 of the 2000 new fellowships: six in life sciences, five in social sciences, two in geosciences, and one in engineering.

“We are excited that five of our students received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which is one of the most prestigious awards that U.S. graduate students can get,” said Cecile McKee, the associate dean for research in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a professor in the Department of Linguistics.

Fellows will receive an annual stipend of $34,000 for three years (with additional support for international research if applicable). Their institutions get an annual $12,000 for tuition and fees.

The NSF provides these fellowships to students early in their graduate careers based on their potential for significant achievements in STEM fields. “Former NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers, and been honored as Nobel laureates,” the NSF said in a statement.

“We are delighted that over a third of the NSF GRFs given to students currently enrolled at the UA went to SBS students,” said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “This is a great testament to the quality of our graduate programs in the STEM fields.”

The five new fellows in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences are Emma Nelson Bunkley (School of Anthropology), Emma J. Lawlor (School of Geography and Development), Joshua Richard Meyer (Department of Linguistics), Megan Mills-Novoa (School of Geography and Development), and Melodie Yen (Department of Linguistics).

Emma Nelson Bunkley
Emma’s focus is medical anthropology and questions of social inequality and access to medical care. She will use her fellowship to examine ways in which caregivers, particularly women, are able to maintain productivity in the face of chronic illness and recurring infectious disease in Senegal, West Africa.

“I am thrilled to have received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship,” said Emma. “I am grateful to my mentoring team, Drs. Ivy Pike, Mark Nichter, and Susan Shaw, for their assistance while writing the application.”

Emma Lawlor
Emma is studying an emerging Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) epidemic of debated origins in rural Central America. Her research explores how governments, agricultural industries, communities, doctors, and particularly affected-individuals are responding to the disease.

“I think the CKD epidemic is a useful window into understanding how modern industrial agriculture affects the health of farmworkers and rural communities. My work has shown that not only are exploitative labor relations and chemically-contaminated environments often overlapping problems, but also that scientific uncertainty can undercut the possibilities for advancing progressive health politics in marginalized rural communities.”

Emma is excited that the fellowship will allow her to concentrate on her research and participate in more community discussions about these topics.

Joshua Richard Meyer
Josh studies the Kyrgyz language and bilingualism through computational and experimental approaches, using data from perception studies and speech recordings.

“I'm ecstatic about this fellowship because my research entails travel costs in addition to on-site expenses,” said Josh. “One of my goals is to produce a spoken corpus of Kyrgyz (a collection of recordings with detailed, aligned transcriptions) and make it available to other researchers in different disciplines. This kind of corpus can be useful for many things. For example, it could be used to create automatic speech recognition software, which isn't available for many languages, including Kyrgyz.”

Megan Mills-Novoa
“I am incredibly honored and awfully excited to receive the Graduate Research Fellowship,” said Megan “This award will enable me to conduct prolonged fieldwork in the arid Andes and be able to fully focus on developing my scholarship.”

Megan, who was previously a Fulbright Research Fellow and an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, is interested in investigating how agricultural adaption is shaped by hydroclimatic changes, the globalization of agricultural commodity markets, and shifting land and water governance in South America. For her dissertation research, she wants to integrate remote sensing and qualitative social science methods to explore the drivers behind agricultural land use change in the context of mounting global change processes. 

Melodie Yen
“I feel completely astonished and speechless about receiving this fellowship,” said Melodie, a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics. “Since I found out, I've had this tiny irrational fear that it would all turn out to be an April Fool's joke!”

At the Language Neuroscience Lab, Melodie studies the neural mechanisms of language and is involved in several projects exploring topics such as long-term aphasic recovery and protocols for language mapping in stroke and other populations. 

“I am passionate about neurolinguistics,” said Melodie. “My goal is to contribute substantially to the discipline of language neuroscience.”

Published Date: 

04/03/2015 - 10:16am