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Students, Alums Awarded Prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship

April 12, 2024

Three UC Merced graduate students and two undergraduate alumni were recently offered fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

UC Merced’s 2024 NSF GRFP recipients are:

  • Anthony Alfaro, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UC Merced in 2022, is a second-year Ph.D. student at UC San Diego in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

  • Andrew DeMello is graduating from UC Merced with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry this May and will join the Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Group this fall.

  • Second-year Quantitative and Systems Biology Ph.D. student John Espinosa is investigating community college transfer students’ experiences in undergraduate research and exploring the use of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences to increase persistence in biology among historically excluded groups.

  • Luca Kuziel is a first-year Quantitative and Systems Biology Ph.D. student who earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University.

  • Jocelyn Rojas, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in environmental systems science in 2023, will join UC Santa Cruz as an Environmental Systems Ph.D. student and will study the effects of implementing principles of regenerative agriculture on soil health in small-scale community gardens.

Current graduate students Genevieve McKeown-Green and James Waterford, and undergraduate alumni Estefania Cuevas-Zepeda, Calista Lum and Harrison Tom received honorable mention recognitions by the NSF GRFP.

“I am delighted that our students continue to be recognized by the National Science Foundation as some of the nation’s most promising future scientists and engineers,” Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Hrant Hratchian said. “Our GRFP awardees and those named as honorable mention have demonstrated the potential for meaningful achievements in their fields.”

The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual stipend of $37,000. This year, there were more than 16,000 applicants to the program — 2,037 fellowships were awarded and 1,788 honorable mentions were acknowledged.

The NSF GRFP honors and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.