Two UAB physics graduates selected for National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Two UAB Department of Physics graduates have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Stream nsf grfpLogan Burnett and Trenton CulverhouseTwo University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Physics spring 2024 graduates, Logan Burnett and Trenton Culverhouse, have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Recognized as the country’s oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, this prestigious award highlights Burnett and Culverhouse for their undergraduate achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and potential for success in their future academic and professional careers.

Burnett, a native of Helena, Alabama, will be pursuing a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research will focus on the development of AI digital twins to autonomously operate the next generation of advanced reactors. 

Passionate about supporting microreactors, the Honors College graduate believes they have the potential to accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy in the United States and in remote parts of the world that otherwise lack access to an energy grid.

Thanking his mother, partner Allyson, and close friends, Burnett also acknowledged the UAB Physics department and his mentor. “My mentor Dr. Cheng-Chien Chen has always made me feel like a collaborator and friend rather than just another student, and his mentorship has no doubt been a huge factor in helping me get accepted to the #1 nuclear engineering program in the country."

“After my Ph.D., I will begin working in the nuclear energy industry as an AI engineer, helping create AI models to enable remote operation of microreactors,” Burnett said. “The NSF fellowship will grant me freedom in the research projects I choose to tackle during my Ph.D.”

The NSF GRFP will fund Honors College graduate and Homewood, Alabama, native Culverhouse’s research into quantum materials, enabling him to pursue advanced studies and contribute to the field without any financial pressure.

“I am heading to Cornell University this fall to obtain my Ph.D. in physics,” Culverhouse said. “My research will be focused primarily on the intriguing properties of quantum materials, specifically topological superconductors and topological insulators.”

Culverhouse said he appreciates the support of his family and friends while being immensely grateful to the UAB physics department for their pivotal role in his development as both a student and researcher. Culverhouse said. “I would like to especially thank Dr. Wenli Bi, whose mentorship has been invaluable over the past three and half years while working in her laboratory.”

Culverhouse aspires to secure a postdoctoral position after he completes his Ph.D. to assist in his ultimate goal of becoming a research professor.

Each graduate has been awarded $159,000 over a total of three years, which will provide support in their graduate education and research.

UAB’s Office of National and International Fellowships and Scholarships hosts workshops in the Fall semester to help graduating seniors and first-year graduate students in research-focused STEM graduate programs prepare for the NSF GRFP application process. Contact for more information.

The NSF GRFP has funded over 70,000 graduate research fellowships since 1952. This highly competitive program strives to ensure the quality, vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States.