Montana State University

NSF fellowships awarded to nine grad students, postdocs affiliated with MSU

November 7, 2012 -- MSU News Service


These seven graduate students and two postdoctoral researchers have received 2012 fellowships from the National Science Foundation.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN - Seven graduate students and two postdoctoral researchers who are affiliated with Montana State University and have the potential to become high-achieving scientists and engineers received National Science Foundation fellowships in 2012.

The NSF awarded two types of fellowships to nine people affiliated with MSU's College of Agriculture, College of Engineering or the College of Letters and Science. The Graduate Research Fellowship pays annual support and $30,000 for each of three years. One of the Postdoctoral Fellowships amounts to $123,000 for two years. The other Postdoctoral Fellowship totals $189,000 over three years.

The recipients will use their fellowships to conduct a variety of research projects, such as monitoring the effects of cancer treatments, studying decision making in cells and analyzing the effect of climate change on aquatic systems.

Two of four recipients associated with the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences will conduct fieldwork in the Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest in Montana and the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research station in North Carolina.

Graduate Research Fellowships for 2012 went to:

Elizabeth Aisenbrey, who will use her award to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Aisenbrey graduated from MSU in fall 2011 with a double major in chemical engineering and biological engineering.

Loribeth Evertz, a fall 2011 graduate of MSU, began graduate studies in July in biomedical engineering at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. She hopes to work on a project that will use magnetic resonance imaging and physical vibrations to monitor treatments of cancerous tumors throughout the body. At MSU, Evertz majored in mechanical engineering, minored in mathematics and earned a certificate in international engineering. In 2010, she also received a Goldwater Scholarship, the nation's premier award for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering.

Jeannie Hunnicutt, who graduated from MSU in fall 2007, is a second-year graduate student in neuroscience in the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health and Science University. She will use her award to examine the mechanisms that control motor decision-making. At MSU, Hunnicutt majored in cell biology and neuroscience and worked as an undergraduate in the laboratories of professors Charles Gray and Frances Lefcort. She continued to work in Lefcort's lab as a research assistant for two years after graduation.

Leslie Jones, who graduated from MSU in the spring of 2012, plans to use her award to pursue a doctorate through the systems ecology program at the University of Montana. Her research aims to assess the potential impacts of climate change on aquatic ecosystems in what is known as the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. Jones also received a fellowship for $8,000 from the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. At MSU, Jones earned a master's degree in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences.

Kendra Kaiser, who has been working in MSU's Watershed Hydrology Lab since the beginning of her senior year at MSU, will use her fellowship at Duke University. Like Tim Covino who received a postdoctoral fellowship, she will conduct fieldwork at the Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest in Montana and the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research station in North Carolina. She wants to know how nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide are affected by available water, climate and vegetation at each site. Kaiser says she is working toward a career in hydrology because, "Water is our most limited and valuable resource."

Courtney Peck, a recent MSU physics graduate from Sidney, will use her award to study solar physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Peck selected CU because eventually it will house the headquarters of the National Solar Observatory, a ground-based 4m solar telescope that will be built in Hawai'i. Peck became interested in studying solar science through the high-altitude ballooning group, BOREALIS. While at MSU, Peck processed data of a solar flare in high energy X-rays to infer energy release profiles of the flare, and therefore of magnetic reconnection, which is the process that causes solar flares with the MSU Solar Physics REU, mentored by Jiong Qiu.

Aimee Tallian, who graduated from MSU in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in biology, will use her award to study ecology at Utah State University's Department of Wildland Resources and Ecology Center. She will study with wildlife ecologist Dan MacNulty, with whom she volunteered on a behavioral study of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Since graduating from MSU, Tallian has worked as a biological technician at Yellowstone, where she has tracked and collared bears and bison for management and research. She worked with the National Park Service at Florida's Gulf Breeze National Seashore where she oversaw clean-up efforts after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. She also volunteered for the South Africa College of Tourism's Tracker Academy.

Postdoctoral Fellowships in biology for 2012 went to:

Tim Covino, who worked in Brian McGlynn's lab in land resources and environmental sciences. He will use his fellowship at Duke University. It amounts to $123,000 over 2 years. Working with three mentors - one each in physics, math and biology - he will conduct fieldwork in Montana and the southern Appalachian Mountains to compare the ecology, hydrology, productivity and metabolism of two rivers located in different climates and surrounded by different vegetation and geology. In Montana, he will collect data from the Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest in the Little Belt Mountains north of White Sulphur Springs. In North Carolina, he will work at the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research station.

Christine Romano, a postdoctoral researcher who works with Timothy McDermott in LRES. She will use her fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University. It amounts to $189,000 over three years. With a doctorate in chemistry from Caltech and postdoctoral research involving Yellowstone National Park microbes from freshwater environments, Romano will enter an oceanography group at OHSU. She eventually wants a career where she can use biology to solve environmental problems. The Texas native sees her fellowship as a "tremendous opportunity" that came at the right time. It reaffirmed her decisions to attend graduate school and encouraged her scientific pursuits.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu