Two Michigan Tech graduate students, Tessa Steenwinkel and Tyler LeMahieu, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, and one undergraduate student, Jenna Brewer, has been given an honorable mention.
The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education. NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have become Nobel Laureates and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.
The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. Besides financial support for fellows, the GRFP provides opportunities for research in national laboratories and international research.
The Graduate School is proud of these students for their outstanding scholarship. These awards highlight the quality of students at Michigan Tech, the innovative work they have accomplished, the potential for leadership and impact in science and engineering that the country recognizes in these students and the incredible role that faculty play in students’ academic success.
Steenwinkel is a biochemistry and molecular biology M.S. student under advisor Thomas Werner (BioSci). She has been studying the influence of nutrition on the interplay of fertility, fecundity and longevity in Drosophila. In the long term, she plans to focus on medicinal research and how genetic regulation plays a role in infertility
Werner writes: “Tessa is the best student I have ever had the pleasure to mentor in my lab. During her undergraduate and accelerated M.S. years, she won nine research awards and published 10 research papers and two books with me. I am extremely happy (but not surprised) that she won the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Her newest success proves that I was not mistaken in my choice to name a new fruit fly species in her honor last year, which is named ‘Amiota tessae.'”
LeMahieu is an environmental engineering M.S. student under advisor Cory McDonald. LeMahieu’s proposal was titled, “Understanding Wild Rice Site Suitability in a Changing Climate.”
LeMahieu writes: “I plan to dedicate my career to bridging gaps between the scientific body and land managers. I would like to manage public and rural lands for the farmer, the logger and the hunter while managing those same lands for improved water and ecological health into perpetuity. Because fundamentally, rural land managers have the same goal in mind as those studying the environment — a useful, productive and sound ecosystem which will support and be supported by the next generation. That common ground is not always evident to both parties, but I am equipped to act as an intermediary with a foot in both worlds.”
Brewer is a senior undergraduate student from Grand Rapids studying wildlife ecology and management under advisor Jared Wolfe. She plans to continue her education at Michigan Tech, pursuing a graduate degree this fall. Her research aims to develop an acoustic signal to deter birds from potential collision hazards such as city buildings during flight, effectively mitigating bird deaths. After graduate school, she hopes to become an avian ecologist, contributing to projects that focus on migration science.
Wolfe writes: “Jenna’s enthusiastic study of songbird ecology and conservation has long been recognized by her supervisors and peers; now that same passion has been recognized by the National Science Foundation. Faculty at CFRES are incredibly proud of Jenna’s accomplishment!”