Four Occidental Alumnae Win NSF Fellowships
Four Occidental College graduates have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for 2009.
Among this year’s 950 awardees are Mirna Carrillo ’08, Katharine Marshall ’04, Christina Wong ’06, and Elizabeth Brown ’09. The competitive award will pay for three years of study—up to $121,500—toward the pursuit of an advanced degree. A fifth alumna, Jessica Simes ’09, received an honorable mention from the Foundation.
The four graduate students are the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Occidental alumni to receive the prestigious NSF fellowship since 1990.
Carrillo, a native of South Los Angeles and a cultural anthropology and Spanish double major at Occidental, is pursuing a doctorate in anthropology at UC San Diego. Her research interests focus on learning how migration helps redefine a culture and create generations with new identities. Specifically, she is studying Salvadoran and Samoan diasporas. “I am invested in looking at globalization not just as a modern phenomenon, but as a human lifestyle informed by many centuries past and not always restricted to definitions imposed by Western theories,” she says. Carrillo plans to become a public anthropologist.
Marshall, a biology major from Moscow, Idaho, is studying biological oceanography at the University of Washington. Her research involves using a culturing method called “dilution to extinction” to grow marine bacteria that have never been cultured before, in hopes of cataloging marine bacterial diversity.
“I love doing research in biological oceanography and I think that there are many important discoveries being made in this field right now. I’m so glad that the NSF will be backing me with funding because I think it will help me contribute significantly to our understanding of the ocean,” says Marshall, who hopes to become a professor at a large university.
Wong, an ecology and urban planning major at Occidental who hails from San Francisco, is studying ecology at Arizona State University. Brown, a geology major originally from Concord, Calif., plans to study geosciences at Yale University.
The GRF program, the oldest of NSF's programs, makes awards directly to graduate students rather than to universities. As such, the awards are “portable.” Students receive funding at the institution they choose for research-focused master’s and doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. (The students receive a stipend of $30,000 a year, plus $10,500 a year as a cost-of-education allowance.) Students are eligible to receive supplements for travel and supercomputing. NSF Fellows are expected to become experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.
Since 1952, NSF has funded 43,000 GRFs out of more than 500,000 applicants. Twenty of them have gone on to become Nobel laureates.