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Thirty-two Illinois Students Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships


Thirty-two students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign haved been offered Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Twenty-three are graduate students and nine are undergraduates. An additional 21 students are accorded Honorable Mention.

Launched in 1952 shortly after Congress established NSF, the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program represents the nation's oldest continuous investment in the U.S. scientific workforce. The program recruits high-potential, early-career researchers and supports their graduate training in science, technology, social science, engineering, and mathematics fields.

This year, 2,000 awardees nationally were selected from more than 12,000 applicants. Awardees come from all 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Honorable Mention recognition went to 1,459 individuals.

As with all of NSF’s grant and fellowship programs, applications were evaluated according to two criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. To fulfill both criteria, applicants must demonstrate potential for becoming not only exemplary researchers but exemplary publicly engaged researchers who will use their knowledge and skills to benefit society.

Awardees receive three years of support. Support includes a $34,000 annual stipend along with a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance that covers tuition and fees. Awardees also have access to two professional development programs: the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) program, which supports students conducting research in overseas labs, and the Graduate Research Internship (GRIP) program, which provides on-site experience in federal agencies.  Fellows also have access to NSF’s Career-Life Balance initiative.

Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, dean of the Graduate College, says “The NSF-GRF honors students whose accomplishments both inside and outside the classroom indicate great promise as future science leaders. We congratulate all those students whose efforts have culminated in this prestigious award.” 

According to Ken Vickery, director of fellowships in the Graduate College, “This is an outstanding year for Illinois students. Thirty-two awardees places us second among Big Ten schools, and it represents an increase of ten over last year.  Our success with the GRF certainly speaks to the caliber of our students, but it also speaks to the training and mentoring our students are receiving. Faculty members are usually heavily involved in a student’s winning such an award, so along with hearty congratulations to the awardees I’d also like to applaud all the professors who helped guide their students to this honor.”    

Listed below are the currently enrolled students from the University of Illinois offered awards and accorded Honorable Mention. A nationwide list of winners  is available on the NSF-GRF FastLane website. For additional details, visit the NSF-GRF webpage.


  • John Alexander Albright (Geology)
  • Anish Bhattacharya (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
  • Alexi Taylor Block Gorman (Mathematics)
  • Sarah Elizabeth Bonson (Chemistry)
  • Kevin Joseph Cheng (Biophysics)
  • Yoel Rene Cortes-Pena (Civil & Environmental Engineering)
  • Amanda Elizabeth Cowfer (Chemistry)
  • Luis Daniel Curet (Chemistry)
  • Marley Johnstone Dewey (Materials Science & Engineering)
  • Maximillian Kirichenko Egan (Psychology)
  • Michael Paul Gapinske (Bioengineering)
  • Martin Garcia Chavez (Chemistry)
  • Natalia Gonzalez Medina (Bioengineering)
  • Julianne Marie Griffith (Psychology)
  • Aida Rosalia Guhlincozzi (Geography)
  • Danielle D Harrier (Chemical Engineering)
  • Michael Anthony Highman (Physics)
  • Christopher Huck (Chemistry)
  • Elijah Karvelis (Chemical Engineering)
  • Quan Ngoc Lam (Biochemistry)
  • Alexandra Lamtyugina (Chemistry)
  • Hang Woon Lee (Aerospace Engineering)
  • Ashley Erin Lenhart (Chemistry)
  • Aaron Daniel Mena (Chemistry)
  • Colleen Robichaux (Mathematics)
  • Brennan Rose (Chemistry)
  • Patrick Schneider (Chemistry)
  • Rachel Emma Clarke Smith (Physics)
  • Anastasia Michelle Sorokina (Molecular & Cellular Biology)
  • Edward Sun (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
  • Saavanth Velury (Physics)
  • William Charles Werties (Chemistry)

Honorable Mention:

  • Itamar Jacob Allali (Physics)
  • Robert Gregory Andrews (Mathematics)
  • Sarith Ruwan Bandara (Materials Science & Engineering)
  • Tanner William Bingham (Chemistry)
  • Matthew Wesley Boudreau (Chemistry)
  • Morgan Cencer (Chemistry)
  • Parinaz Fathi (Bioengineering)
  • Brittney L Gorman (Biophysics)
  • Edmund Han (Materials Science & Engineering)
  • Monique Hazemi (Integrative Biology)
  • Daniel Scott Johnson (Physics)
  • Indran Kamalanathan (Civil & Environmental Engineering)
  • Helen Wang Liu (Crop Sciences)
  • Timothy Murray (Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering)
  • Isamar Pastrana-Otero (Chemical Engineering)
  • Bijal Bankim Patel (Chemical Engineering)
  • Sierra Summer Raglin (Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences)
  • John Simonaitis (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
  • Whitney Elaine Sinclair (Chemical Engineering)
  • Scott Daniel Zelman (Aerospace Engineering)
  • Jennifer Marie Zupancic (Chemistry)