Ds Scholarship

Graduate School recognizes over 40 new NSF GRFP recipients

Forty-four graduate students have been selected as new fellows in the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). These new fellows join Cornell’s community of nearly 200 fellows currently on campus.

NSF offers approximately 2,000 fellowships annually to master’s and doctoral students who pursue study in STEM majors supported by NSF at accredited US institutions. In 2020, the NSF GRFP received more than 13,000 applications.

As part of a five-year fellowship, students receive three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000, as well as access to professional development opportunities. Fellows institutions receive a tuition allowance cost of $12,000.

“The NSF GRFP is highly competitive, and we are very proud of all of our colleagues at Cornell University,” said Catherine J. Burr, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Dean of Higher Education. “We are excited to see what this funding enables our students to achieve and discover.”

For many graduate students, the NSF GRFP provides the flexibility to explore research interests without the distraction of teaching or securing funding.

“The GRF provides me the freedom to investigate topics that I find important without the pressure of securing project funding,” said civil and environmental engineering doctoral student Trevor Amistoy, who started his program with the fellowship.

The fellowship has allowed doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology David Esparza to pursue additional interests, both within and outside of his studies.

“The NSF GRFP has given me the freedom and time to pursue opportunities that increase my scholarship and service and allow me to mentor undergraduate students at Cornell,” he said. “I feel fortunate to have already begun to participate in research collaborations and service opportunities that I would not have been able to do otherwise.”

Graduate students can apply for the NSF GRFP prior to entering graduate school, unlike most other fellowships of its kind. To be eligible, students must intend to enroll or be enrolled in an eligible field of study.

In the weeks leading up to application deadlines, the Graduate School provides workshops for current students looking to apply for an NSF GRFP or a range of other external fellowships.

“Our graduate students are extremely talented and ambitious,” said Jan Allen, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. “We offer workshops as well as information and counseling sessions to ensure they are as prepared as possible for successful applications.”

Many of this year’s recipients attended these workshops before applying to the NSF GRFP.

“I attended a fellowship preparation workshop in graduate school, and it gave me specific details of what the reviewers were looking for. I think this was critical to my success in receiving the NSF GRF,” said Eric Bidstrup, a PhD student in chemical engineering. “These details included how to frame Intellectual merit in a compelling way and what the broader impact criteria really mean for an individual’s personal statement and proposed research project.”

Anna Whitmore, a doctoral student in anthropology, has attended an NSF fellowship panel discussion hosted by the graduate school with previous recipients, which helped guide her in the application process.

“In the social sciences, it is less common to apply for an associate program than in the natural sciences. It was really helpful to hear the committee members’ advice on making your application stand out from the crowd.”

In addition to annual fellowship workshops in the fall, the Graduate School offers various programs throughout the year to support students’ writing goals. Visit the Office of Academic and Student Affairs webpage for information about boot camp writing, alumni writing, Productive Writer newsletters, Productivity Fellowship, and more.

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