Campus News

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Recognizes 16 UK Students, Alums


Correction: This article has been updated to reflect additional honorable mentions associated with the University of Kentucky. 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 14, 2022) — The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that 10 students and recent graduates have been selected to receive government-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. In addition, three UK doctoral students and three alumni received honorable mention recognition from the NSF. 

As part of the five-year fellowship, NSF Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees for a research-based master's or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) field. In 2022, the NSF awarded approximately 2,200 fellowships from an applicant pool of over 13,000.

UK’s newest NSF fellows and the areas of research they are pursuing are:

  • Thomas Chaney, a 2020 materials engineering and Lewis Honors College graduate from Tipp City, Ohio, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science at University of Colorado Boulder;
  • Tyler Cultice, a 2021 computer engineering graduate from Springfield, Ohio, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer engineering at the University of Tennessee;
  • Daniel Kennedy, a 2021 mechanical engineering graduate from Villa Hills, Kentucky, who is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan;
  • Rollie Mills, a chemical engineering doctoral student from Lexington;
  • Samuel Moore, a 2019 kinesiology and topical major (statistical analysis and interpretation) graduate, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Duke University;
  • Trisha Nickerson, a 2020 chemical engineering and Lewis Honors College graduate from Oswego, Illinois, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at University of Colorado Boulder;
  • Alexandria Pete, a 2021 agricultural and medical biotechnology graduate from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, who is studying plant biology at Harvard University;
  • Kent Pham, a plant and soil sciences doctoral student from Fullerton, California;
  • Madison Webb, a 2021 neuroscience, chemistry and Lewis Honors College graduate from Crescent Springs, Kentucky, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at University of California Berkeley; and
  • Maya Woolfolk, a 2020 biology and Lewis Honors College graduate from Prospect, Kentucky, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in biology at Harvard University.

Six others with UK ties — three current doctoral students and three alumni — received honorable mention recognition from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Those recognized with an honorable mention were:

  • Carly Baker, a 2022 master's in geography graduate;
  • Sami Case, a pharmacology doctoral student;
  • Angela Jones, a 2020 chemistry, biology and Lewis Honors College graduate;
  • Claire Rowlands, a chemical engineering doctoral student;
  • Alaina Smith, a 2019 biology graduate; and
  • David Yackzan, a mechanical engineering doctoral student.

The NSF GRFP is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program directly supporting graduate students since 1952. GRFP is a critical program in NSF's overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. A hallmark of GRFP is its contribution to increasing the diversity of the STEM workforce, including geographic distribution, as well as the participation of women, underrepresented populations, persons with disabilities and veterans.

The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office, housed in the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, well in advance of the scholarship deadline. Staff is available for appointments to discuss opportunities.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.