35 Rice students win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, funding

35 Rice students win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, funding

Thirty-five recipients of the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships are Rice students, incoming students and/or alumni. Only 2,000 students of the more than 12,000 applicants across the country were offered this fellowship award. Twenty-five applicants who received an honorable mention have a Rice affiliation.

“A record numbers of our graduate students have won the NSF fellowship or honorable mention this year,” said Seiichi Matsuda, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies at Rice. “We applaud their talent and their drive to discover.”

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recruits high-potential, early career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. It is part of NSF’s overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce to ensure the nation’s leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.

GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period — a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution. The funds are intended for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM field.

“To support U.S. leadership and innovation in science and engineering, we must recognize and nurture talent from all of our nation’s communities,” said Jim Lewis, NSF acting assistant director for education and human resources. “I am pleased that again this year, the competition has selected talented students from all economic backgrounds and all demographic categories.”

Of the 34 Rice-affiliated fellows, 19 are current or incoming graduate students, five are seniors and 10 are alumni who will conduct their fellowships at other schools.

Matsuda said that recruiting and developing more NSF fellows and other nationally recognized students is central to the Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2) goal to build renowned graduate programs at Rice.

2019 NSF Graduate Student Fellowship recipients with a Rice affiliation:

Graduate students:

  • Constantinos Chamzas, computer engineering – robotics and computer vision
  • Kathleen Nicole Brown, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Nathaniel Kroeger, mathematical sciences – computational mathematics
  • Barathwaj Murali, engineering – mechanical engineering
  • Linnea Ng, psychology – industrial/organizational psychology
  • Gebhard William Keny, social sciences – cultural anthropology
  • Jaime Maxwell Moya,physics and astronomy – condensed matter physics
  • Adam Navara, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Vanessa Briana Espinoza, physics and astronomy – condensed matter physics
  • Cheuk Sun Edwin Lai, engineering – bioengineering
  • Sarah Robinson, mathematical sciences – biostatistics
  • Arzeena Sultana Ali, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry
  • Matthew Linden Bedell, engineering – bioengineering

Incoming graduate students:

  • Catherine Elizabeth Arndt, engineering – electrical and electronic engineering
  • Naomi Lynn Senehi, engineering – environmental engineering
  • John Cameron Zito, mathematical sciences – statistics
  • Marissa Renee Perez, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Elena Musteata, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Kevin Michael Wyss, chemistry – chemical catalysis
  • Felix Wu, psychology - industrial/organizational psychology
  • Marina Yu, engineering - biomedical engineering


  • Christopher Hareland, engineering – materials engineering
  • Constantine Nicholas Tzouanas, engineering – bioengineering
  • Alexander Yi-Kai Hwang, engineering, materials research – photonic materials
  • Clayton Robert Little, engineering - mechanical engineering
  • Felix Wu, psychology - industrial/organizational psychology

Alumni at other schools who received NSF fellowships:

  • Robert Lawrence Baines, engineering – mechanical engineering
  • Scott Gwin Carlsten, physics and astronomy – astronomy and astrophysics
  • Andrew de la Cruz Ligeralde, life sciences – biophysics
  • Haihao Liu, physics and astronomy – condensed matter physics
  • James Long, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Brandi Ransom, engineering – materials engineering
  • Erica Skerrett, engineering – biomedical Engineering
  • Grant Jacob Stec, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry
  • Tiffany Tang, mathematical sciences – statistics
  • Evan Hunter Toler, mathematical sciences – applied mathematics

Graduate students who received honorable mention:

  • Lauren Iris Howe-Kerr, life sciences – ecology
  • Isabel Maria Bilotta, psychology – industrial/organizational psychology
  • Sarah Hahn Hulgan, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry
  • Hana Jaafari, life sciences – biophysics
  • Mae LeeAda Markowski, mathematical sciences – applied mathematics
  • David Marolf, chemistry – macromolecular, supramolecular and nanochemistry
  • Jordin Metz, chemistry – sustainable chemistry
  • Andrea Valentina Padrón, life sciences – biochemistry
  • Michael Swierczynski, chemistry – chemistry of life process
  • E-Lim Lydia Wu, psychology – affective neuroscience/health psychology
Incoming graduate students who received honorable mention
  • Jacob Lee Beckham, engineering - materials engineering
  • Marina Elon Hawkins, life sciences - evolutionary biology
  • Kate O’Connor, mathematical sciences - topology
  • Sophia Andaloro, physics and astronomy - nuclear physics

Undergraduate students who received honorable mention:

  • Patrick Quinn Kelly, chemistry – chemical catalysis
  • Mekedlawit Setegne, chemistry – chemical biology
  • Peter Suzuki, engineering – bioengineering
  • Victor Gonzalez, engineering – computer engineering and machine learning

Alumni at other schools who received honorable mention:

  • Kylie Balotin, engineering – biomedical engineering
  • Jiming Chen, engineering – chemical engineering
  • Matthew Alberto Cruz, life sciences – biochemistry
  • Alexandra Kali Holmes, geosciences – geochemistry
  • Thomas Hsiao, mathematical sciences – statistics
  • Shared Khalil Jones, engineering – computer engineering and machine learning
  • Aniket Anil Tolpadi, engineering – bioengineering