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Three U of U Health Graduate Students Awarded Prestigious NSF Fellowship

This story is adapted from the original, posted here.

One graduate student in the department of biochemistry, and two in the department of neurobiology, have been awarded the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) for 2022. In total, twenty University of Utah graduate students have been offered GRFP awards this year, the largest U cohort to date.

The prestigious fellowship supports outstanding doctoral and research-based master’s students doing research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. A total of 17 fellowship winners received their baccalaureate degrees here at the U, the largest group of winners ever who trained at the U as undergraduates.

“We had really moved the mark over the past few years, but this year we hit it out of the park,” said David Kieda, dean of the U’s Graduate School.

The three U of U Health awardees are:

Jordan Grammar (Moriel Zelikowsky Lab, neurobiology) - Grammar is examining the impact of social isolation on social behaviors and the neural circuits that underly these effects. Ultimately, this research could contribute toward an understanding of how loneliness is encoded in the brain.

Nicole Losurdo (Nichole Link Lab, neurobiology) – Losurdo is using the fruit fly as an animal model to discover and describe the role of the gene adipose. Understanding this novel pathway will provide new insights into the development of the brain and its functions.

Shai-anne Nalder (Paul Sigala Lab, biochemistry) – Nalder’s research is illuminating how iron is trafficked and used in Plasmodium, parasites that cause malaria. This work is helping to understand how the antimalaria drug doxycycline works to prevent disease with the goal of optimizing use of the drug and uncovering additional drug targets.

Human genetics graduate student Kayla Eschenbacher and psychiatry graduate student Maci Jacobson received honorable mentions.

graph showing numbers of GRFP awardees at the U since 2010

Established in 1952, the NSF GRFP is the oldest fellowship program of its kind. The 2022 fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, a $12,000 cost of allowance for tuition and fees, and numerous research and professional development opportunities.

Kieda notes that this year’s cohort of 20 fellows is the sixth highest among Pac-12 peers and includes graduate students in 16 different departments, ranging from Child Development to Ecology to Biomedical Engineering.

Congratulations to all U of U 2022 NSF GFRP Fellows:

Devaki Abhyankar, biomedical engineering

Tyler Ball, chemical catalysis

Hannah Duffy, biomedical engineering

Robert Falconer, biomedical engineering

Oliver Flatt, formal methods, verification and programming languages

Jordan Grammer, neurosciences

Cleo Hancock, chemical engineering

Martina Hollearn, cognitive neuroscience

Lewis Kunik, biogeochemistry

Shaylee Larsen, chemical engineering

Samantha Linn, mathematical biology

Nicole Losurdo, neurosciences

Madeline Meyer, chemistry of life processes

Nicolette Molina, physiological psychology

Megan Mullineaux, child development

Shai-anne Nalder, biochemistry

Kaitlin O’Dell, applied mathematics

Nathan Ortiz, mechanical engineering

Andrew Simonson, chemical engineering

Caleb Thomson, biomedical engineering

Honorable mentions:

Donovan Birky, mechanical engineering

Hannah Burton, chemical theory, models and computational methods

Kayla Eschenbacher, neurosciences

Shelby Galinat, sustainable chemistry

Rachel Hurrell, biochemistry

Maci Jacobson, neurosciences

Rachel Klink, biomedical engineering

Roxanne Lamson, Archaeology

Tre Presley, mechanical engineering

Moe Samha, chemical catalysis

David Williamson, analytical chemistry