Six Graduate Students Receive Prestigious Awards

April 5, 2013

Five MGM Graduate Students Receive NSF Fellowships

Durham, NC — Five graduate students in the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology are among an elite group to be awarded fellowships under the 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as the potential to strengthen the vitality of science and engineering in the United States.

The following graduate students working in the laboratories of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology faculty and scientists were awarded these highly competitive fellowships:

Ryan Finethy (CMB Graduate Student, Coers Lab)
Emily Miller (UPGG Graduate Student, Silver Lab)
Katherine Rempe (MGM Graduate Student, St. Geme Lab)
Joseph Saelens (MGM Graduate Student, Tobin Lab)
Monica Thomas (CMB Graduate Student, Ko Lab)

All will receive an annual stipend of $30,000 that is renewable for three years, plus $12,000 each year for a cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. Applicants for the fellowship program submit a proposal to the NSF, which are reviewed by a panel of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and other experts in graduate education. Proposals must demonstrate how the student’s research will enhance scientific and technical understanding, while benefiting society.

“NSF’s Graduate Research Program Fellowship is awarded to exceptional students who demonstrate significant potential to contribute to scientific innovation and education,” says Raphael Valdivia, Director of Graduate Studies for MGM. “These awards are a great honor and distinguish the excellence of our department as well as the Duke graduate school as a whole.” He adds, “We wish our NSF Fellows great success as they pursue their graduate degrees and aspire to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

The foundation awarded 2,000 fellowships and 1,762 honorable mentions from the 13,000 applications it received this year. Receiving an NSF honorable mention is MGM graduate student, Eric Walton (Tobin Lab).

Congratulations to the awardees and honorable mention.

The full list of recipients is available here.

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Mao Receives Broad Research Award

Helen Mao, a third-year graduate student in the Duke University Program in Genetics and Genomics (UPGG) has captured a prestigious Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Research Foundation Award, providing her $41,098 over the next year to support her research.

Mao works in the laboratory of Debra Silver, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and a Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Investigator. The Silver lab uses genetic and cell biological approaches to understand normal development and human disease. Specifically, their studies aim to elucidate the genetic and cell biological mechanisms of stem cells, neural development, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Mao is studying the role of an RNA surveillance complex (EJC) in regulating neurogenesis in the developing brain.

“Of the many wonderful students I have had the pleasure of doing research with here at Duke, I can think of none more qualified for this award than Helen,” says Silver.

The Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Research Foundation, Inc. funds graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty at Duke, for research with emphasis on understanding the underlying biology of nervous system diseases. The Intramural Grants Screening Committee reviews all applications.