MISSOULA – The National Science Foundation recently announced the awardees and honorable mentions for its 2022 Graduate Research Fellowships Program, and the list includes two University of Montana students and one UM alum – all of them women.

The awards are among the most prestigious graduate science recognitions in the country. Students named NSF Graduate Research Fellows are provided five-year fellowships with the NSF, including three years of financial support, an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the student’s current institution.

Awards are given to graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or math at accredited U.S. institutions.

“UM has had a lot of success attracting GRFP award winners due to the quality of our STEM programs and faculty members, who recruit from a national pool of high-quality graduate student candidates,” said Ashby Kinch, dean of UM’s Graduate School. “We are delighted to see the success of our students as researchers – both the undergraduates who leave here to pursue graduate degrees and then ones we who bring their GRFP to UM to pursue their graduate research with our excellent community of faculty and student researchers.”

The NSF named two current UM graduate students and one graduate student at the University of California, Davis, who received her undergraduate degree from UM.

  • Allison Monroe received her undergraduate degree from Hendrix College biology and researches indigenous knowledge and environmental sustainability as a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Studies, housed in UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences.
  • Grace Erba will receive her undergraduate degree in May from UM. She studies wildlife biology in UM’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation and has committed to a doctoral program at UM in wildlife biology.
  • Emily Leonhardt received her undergraduate degree in 2017 in wildlife biology from UM and now researches life sciences at UC-Davis.

The NSF awards reflect UM’s growing research enterprise.

This year, UM was named a top-tier “R1” research institution. The honor was conferred by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education organization. UM was upgraded to the “Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity” classification, also known as R1.Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship, said the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships speak to UM’s excellence in training undergraduates for postsecondary work and providing graduate students rigorous training and diverse experiences across UM’s research profile.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate these impressive NSF Fellows,” Whittenburg said. “UM provides a world-class education and training that’s on par with the nation’s best when it comes to graduate-level research and training”
Last year, UM was ranked in the top 10 nationwide for research growth, according to the NSF. UM ranked No. 6 nationally for research growth among all universities with more than $100 million in research expenditures, growing from $55 million in 2014 to a record $122 million this year.

Research at UM spans a wide range of disciplines, including health sciences, biological and biomedical sciences, natural resources and conservation, mathematical and physical sciences, geosciences, social sciences and computer sciences and engineering.

Kylla Benes, director of UM’s office of External Scholarships and Fellowships said the award reflects UM’s standing as a prestigious research university, one that compares with with any graduate education in the country.

“This is one of the biggest awards for STEM graduate students in the nation,” Benes said. “UM has a long history of producing top-level researchers, and we are thrilled for these scientists to receive such an accolade at our University.”

- by UM News Service -