Samantha B. Bonar

Three Occidental students and alumni have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellowships, awarded annually to candidates in the sciences and social sciences who are pursuing a master’s degree or Ph.D. 

Heidi Aronson ’16, a biology major from Los Altos who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in geomicrobiology at USC; Robert Bogue ’17, a geology major from Los Angeles (and son of Oxy geology professors Scott Bogue and Margie Rusmore), currently working as a climate scientist for NASA; and Bryce Hickam ’18, a chemistry major from Woodland Park, Colo., will receive support for their graduate studies from the NSF. This is the second consecutive year that an Oxy undergraduate has been awarded a fellowship, which usually go to graduate students. 

The fellowship provides three years of support for graduate study leading to research-based advanced degrees and is intended for students in the early stages of their graduate work. It provides a $34,000 living stipend and  $12,000 per year for tuition for three years within a five-year period. This year, the NSF offered 2,000 fellowships out of a field of more than 12,000 applications. 

"The fellowship is essentially the most prestigious award for early-career graduate students," said Occidental assistant professor of chemistry Jeff Cannon. "It’s highly competitive, and receiving it is a vote of confidence from the NSF that they will have a successful graduate career. The application requires digging deep into a problem and finding an effective solution that holds muster to the career scientists that evaluate the proposals. It’s no mean feat by any respect."

Occidental also had three honorable mentions this year: Lani Cupo ’18, Susan Burke ’17 and Arvin Sookezian ’16.

In the last five award years, Occidental students and alumni have received 19 NSF fellowships and 10 honorable mentions, a continuing tradition in national recognition for the excellence of our scientists. Since 1990, a total of 48 Occidental students and alumni have been awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.