Skip to main content

Twenty-seven Illinois students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Statue colored orange and blue with hand on hip.

Twenty-one graduate students, five undergraduates, and one alumnus from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been offered Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF). An additional twenty-three students have been accorded Honorable Mention.

Listed below are the awardees and Honorable Mention designees from the University of Illinois. A nationwide list of recipients is available on the NSF-GRF FastLane website.


Felipe Felix Arias (Computer Science)
Mandira Banik (Chemistry)
Susanna Elizabeth Barrett (Chemistry)
Rishi Chandra (Geology)
Peng-Jui Chen (Chemistry)
Sriyankari Chitti (Chemistry)
Mari R Cieszynski (Physics)
William Cartwright Drennan (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Manuel Romeo Flores (Plant Biology)
Shiliang Gao (Mathematics)
Annika Rachel Holm (Chemistry)
Kevin Gordon Kleiner (Physics)
Robert August Krueger (Mathematics)
William LaSalle Lyon  (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering)
Jaron Maurice Mink (Computer Science)
Bridget Mueller-Brennan (Mathematics)
Reed Oei (Mathematics)
Randy Owen (Physics)
David Samuel Potts (Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering)
Seth Poulsen (Computer Science)
Andrew James Rice (Chemistry)
Valeria Saro-Cortes (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Kristen Schumacher (Physics)
Reid Dukes Smith (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Rachel Tham (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Elizabeth Torres De Jesús (Aerospace Engineering)
Destiny Williams-Dobosz (Educational Psychology)


Frank Andujar Lugo (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Haley Capone (Natural Resources & Environmental Science)
Shravan Rama Dommaraju  (Chemistry)
Emma Erickson (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
Joseph Anthony Forzano (Chemistry)
John Bowman Harvill (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
Liam Healy (Biochemistry)
Catherine Amanda Jalomo (Chemistry)
Ruta Shirish Jawale (Computer Science)
Nerla Jean-Louis (Computer Science)
Kimberly Anne Kelly (Chemistry)
Andrew Robert Klingberg (Mechanical Science & Engineering)
Kailey Elisabeth Komnick (Chemistry)
Madeline Hope Melton (Animal Sciences)
Rachel Nixon (Chemistry)
Andrea Perry (Physics)
Kevin Johannes Ros (Computer Science)
Louis Schatzki (Electrical & Computer Engineering)
Claire Schmit (Chemistry)
Alexandra Rose Spitzer (Material Science & Engineering)
Matthew George Thibodeau (Physics)
Emily Williams (Aerospace Engineering)
Cindy Wong (Material Science & Engineering)

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.

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 researching in overseas labs, and the INTERN program, which supports research internships in any sector of the U.S. economy. Fellows also have access to NSF’s Career-Life Balance initiative.

Ken Vickery, Director of Fellowships in the Graduate College, says, "This year's GRF cohort is exceptional in that they either concluded their undergraduate educations or started their graduate educations under extremely challenging circumstances given the pandemic. It is therefore all the more laudable that these students pressed on to the degree that they were selected as this year's awardees. Congratulations to all of them for this extraordinary achievement."

For additional details, visit the NSF-GRF webpage. Students applying this fall should consult the NSF-GRF listing in the Graduate College's Fellowship Finder database and contact the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships for one-on-one proposal advising.