External Fellowship Winners

Rae Corrigan

Rae Corrigan

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Biomedical Engineering)

Rae Corrigan considers collaboration to be one of the most important facets of research. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, she looks forward to meeting experts in her field of biomedical engineering as well as other up-and-coming researchers.

Corrigan plans to use these collaborations to strengthen her NSF research—a data curation and processing project at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics that helps interpret and present data related to hearing loss.

“Being awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship is a huge honor; it's hard to describe how wonderful it feels to be recognized in my field so early in my career,” Corrigan says. “I'm excited to be a part of the NSF GRFP community and will definitely take advantage of the NSF's opportunities for fellows.”

Corrigan’s also is more confident in her granting writing ability after completing her NSF application. She experienced all aspects of the process (reviews, revisions, and re-submission).

Amina Grant

Amina Grant

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Amina Grant is using the GRFP Fellowship to investigate the presence of lead, copper, and arsenic in Iowa drinking water systems. She intends to make all her research data easily available to Iowans, so they can have a tool to assess their water quality and respond to recommendations on how to avoid future lead, copper, and arsenic releases.

Grant believes the fellowship indicates how serious she is about her research as a graduate student in the University of Iowa’s Sustainable Water Development Program.

“For me, it fortified the impact of my core skills as a graduate student--from being a critical thinker to effectively communicating my research to the public--and acknowledged my position in my field,” Grant says. “This fellowship will help me break from any constraints on my research directions.”

Katherine Lazenby

Katherine Lazenby

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Chemistry)

As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Katherine Lazenby plans to explore her research interests and develop her identity as a researcher independent of her advisor’s funded projects.

“(The fellowship) has given me the opportunity to take more classes, travel to conferences, and initiate relationships with other researchers,” Lazenby says.

Her research focuses on how students use and understand the role of mathematical models in the study of chemistry. Thanks to the NSF-GRFP funding, she will study student discourse in the classroom and how instruction can support students’ understanding of the role of mathematical models in chemistry.

Andrea Malek

Andrea Malek

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Teaching and Learning)

Andrea Malek will use this fellowship to investigate why and at what point certain learning environments advance students’ understanding of science. Her research further clarifies how changes in students’ thinking allows them to engage with the discipline as it relates to understanding and advancing science literacy.

“In my case, being awarded a GRFP means that I can devote myself entirely to my doctoral study,” Malek says. “Without it, I was planning to balance classroom teaching and my studies for at least another year, which would have undoubtedly made it more difficult to maximize my time and opportunities at Iowa.”

Malek also plans to use the fellowship to apply for NSF-funded research and internship opportunities.

As a full-time teacher at the time, Malek sought the assistance of the Graduate College’s Office of Graduate Student Success in preparing her GRFP application.

“(The Office of Graduate Student Success) was critical in helping me to understand the application process, and ultimately be a competitive candidate for the GRFP,” Malek says. “I had multiple interactions (in-person and online) with staff, who gave me wonderful advice in preparing an application.”

Rachel Smoak

Rachel Smoak

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Rachel Smoak, a member of the University of Iowa’s Sustainable Water Development Program, will use her NSF GRFP award to pursue her own research ideas, while growing as an independent researcher.

“It gives me the opportunity to conduct international research and connects me to a community of exceptional young scientists,” Smoak says.

Smoak’s research focuses on the interaction of plants and bacteria and how they can be used to help address agricultural, environmental, and economic issues at the Food-Energy-Water nexus.

Mallory Tollefson

Mallory Tollefson

NSF GRFP Fellowship (Biomedical Engineering)

As a GRFP Fellowship recipient, Mallory Tollefson will gain access to the XSEDE supercomputer as a resource for her research project.

Tollefson will use the supercomputer to create an algorithm that optimizes models of proteins. She will apply the algorithm to proteins that are known to cause deafness. Her long-term goal is to develop innovate modeling techniques and a database of protein models to be used in research on genetic mutations and the development of therapeutic drug molecules.

“The availability of supercomputing power is integral to the development of protein simulation techniques and thus, the success of my project,” Tollefson says. “With use of XSEDE resources, I anticipate being able to pursue research questions that require a larger amount of computing power than would otherwise not be available.”

Tollefson also benefitted from completing the GRP application process, which included receiving valuable assistance from the UI’s GRFP awardees, professors, and scholar development experts.

“I was able to practice writing a nationally evaluated proposal, which began preparing me for the numerous occasions that I will need to write or speak about my work,” Tollefson says. “I appreciate the effort that all of my mentors put into my application, and now that I have been awarded the GRFP, I look forward to joining that network of mentors to support other University of Iowa students during their application development process.”

Sharon Idiga

Sharon Idiga

American Heart Association Fellowship (Molecular Medicine)

Sharon Idiga sees potential in her research, and so do others. Most recently, Idiga was awarded an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.

Idiga studies the neural mechanisms of a liver-derived hormone called FGF21 that has been identified as playing a role in the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes. Her lab recently found that FGF21 acts in a specific region of the brain to lower sugar intake in mice.

“This award gives me the opportunity to answer the questions posed in my thesis project. It’s an opportunity to push my research forward in a timely matter,” Idiga says.

Brittany Ripley

Brittany Ripley

American Heart Association Fellowship (Biochemistry)

As an American Heart Association Fellow, Ripley plans to advance her research dealing with DNA repair pathways.

Her research specifically focuses on how cells cope with DNA damage during cell division and how cells regulate the replication of damaged DNA.

“This award will open doors for me to obtain a position as a postdoctoral researcher in a well-respected laboratory. This in turn will project me into a productive career in academia,” Ripley says.

Caroline Radesky

Caroline Radesky

American Association of University Women Fellowship (History)

As an AAUW American Fellow, Caroline Radesky receives time to complete her dissertation and connects her works to rich history of female scholars.

“I am honored and humbled to be counted among these women and to be a part of an organization that supports such groundbreaking work,’’ says Radesky, a Ph.D. candidate in history.

Radesky’s dissertation examines how same-sex desiring women and men inscribed the past onto the present to explain their sexual and affective experience, and also to navigate their own desire and create a world in which they could survive and even thrive.

Using an interdisciplinary framework linking history, memory studies, queer theory, and feminist studies, she examines how these individuals resurrected historical examples of same-sex desire drawn from Ancient Greece, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to formulate a collective history and position themselves as a transnational community.

Elaina Aceves

Elaina Aceves

Ford Foundation Fellowship (Mathematics)

Elaina Aceves hopes to use her experiences as a Ford Foundation Fellow to become a better researcher and promoter of diversity in higher education.

“Being awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation is a valuable opportunity to have the funds to attend conferences about research and professional development all over the nation,” Aceves says. “I also am able to interact with other scholars to create connections with other universities and possible collaborators.”

Her research focuses on extending Ito’s and Kawamuro’s definition of the fractional Dehn twist coefficient (FDTC) of a braid in an attempt to find stronger results about detecting tightness or over-twistedness, which is used to classify contact structures in 4-manifolds.