National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP), John Patrick Flores, Occidental College, Fellowships

John Patrick Flores'21 was awarded The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) that will support his Ph.D. in studying a phenomenon called phase separation

Why did you choose to apply for this award?

I chose to apply for the NSF GRFP because it's a prestigious fellowship that funds the scientist and not necessarily the science. As someone who entered a Ph.D. program with broad scientific interests, I thought the GRFP would be perfect to apply to because I did not have to have a specific research project or mentor in mind. Little did I know that I would end up loving the mentor I wrote this with as well as the science.

Briefly describe the work you will be doing on your fellowship.

I will be studying a phenomenon called phase separation and how this biological process can mediate chromatin looping, cellular differentiation, and gene regulation. From a genomics angle, I will be using both wet-lab and computational techniques to decipher the mechanisms of phase-separated driven chromatin looping.

What are you most looking forward to during your time as a fellow?

I'm looking forward to contributing to science and doing work that can potentially lead to different treatments and therapies for diseases. I am also looking forward to mentoring younger students with compassion and empathy so that they can share my love and passion for science and hopefully start an everlasting chain of curiosity and inclusivity.

How have your experiences at Oxy prepared you to apply for this award?

I actually credit Occidental for my entire being. This institution, the Undergraduate Research Center, and its faculty have helped me develop purpose. I think doing science at a liberal arts college is so beneficial because you can combine STEM and the humanities and use this education and knowledge for the public good. My Oxy education has prepared me incredibly well to apply for the NSF GRFP.

What advice would you give future applicants about the application process?

I would tell future applicants to remember why they're applying to the NSF GRFP and to try and write with purpose, passion, and conviction. Write about why you care about your science; write about why you think you're deserving of the award. Hype yourself up! Self-advocacy is so important and finding the right people to guide you in this process is also super important. I think I sent my proposal to everyone I know. The more eyes, the better!

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