Six from UAB awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Such competitive awards demonstrate that UAB provides students “an exceptionally strong foundation for research success.”
Written by: Karen Templeton
Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

Books on table with chalkboard background in the schoolSuch competitive awards demonstrate that UAB provides students “an exceptionally strong foundation for research success.”A University of Alabama at Birmingham doctoral student, graduate student and four recent alumni have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

The full fellowships provide up to three years of support for graduate education, including a $34,000 annual stipend plus $12,000 per year toward the cost of their graduate work. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program receives more than 12,000 applications each year and selects about 2,000 students.

Awardees include:

Queenisha Crichlow, who is pursuing a doctorate in medical clinical psychology at UAB, works in the lab of Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Psychology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. Crichlow is studying socio-cultural risk and protective factors that reduce the likelihood of poor academic achievement, substance use and delinquency among African American youth.

Niharika Loomba (’18), a UAB Honors College alumna who earned a degree in neuroscience, will begin graduate studies at Vanderbilt University this fall. She researches connectivity between specific brain regions in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Beau Johnson (’18), a UAB Honors College alumnus who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, is pursuing a doctorate at Vanderbilt University. He is conducting research in biomechanics and assistive technologies, such as exoskeletons and prostheses.

Don Long (’19) completed UAB’s Prep Scholars Program, which prepares under-represented students in biomedical/behavioral research for graduate degrees. He is a first-year doctoral student at Cornell University studying the gut microbiome as it pertains to starch degradation.

Catherine Marie Porter (’17) who graduated from UAB with a degree in biomedical engineering, is continuing her studies in the same field at the University of Pennsylvania.

Four current students and two recent alumni received honorable mentions during the application process:

Indonesia Jordan, a graduate of Alabama A&M University, is studying behavioral neuroscience at UAB. She works in the lab of David Knight, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology, studying the impact of chronic pain on emotional learning, memory and expression processes.

Tiffany DeVaughn Tucker, a first-year doctoral student in medical/clinical psychology, is using neuroimaging and neuropsychological assessments to study risk factors of cognitive deficits in patients with sickle cell disease. Tucker works in the lab of Donna Murdaugh, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.

Haley Beck, a post-baccalaureate student, is completing the UAB Prep Scholar’s Program and working in the lab of Despina Stavrinos, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology. She will begin a doctoral program in experimental psychology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville this fall.

Roshan Darji (’18) completed degrees in biology, mathematics and chemistry at UAB and is a graduate of the UAB Honors College. He is studying bioinformatics and computational biology at Emory University.

Anastasia Niver (’18) completed dual degrees in chemistry and neuroscience and was a student in the UAB Honors College’s University Honors Program. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at Duke University.

Sarah Shainker, a graduate student in the biology department within the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, will use the fellowship to study the biodiversity and evolutionary ecology of Alabama’s freshwater red algae, a type of macroalgae. Working under the mentorship of profressor Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, Ph.D., Shainker plans to develop a citizen science monitoring program so that Alabamians can learn more about the biodiversity that exists in their own backyard.

“NSF fellowships are highly competitive,” said Ashley Kuntz, Ph.D., director of UAB National and International Fellowships and Scholarships. “It speaks highly of all the UAB faculty who have trained these students and continue to invest in their success. Time spent studying at UAB obviously provides an exceptionally strong foundation for research success.”

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, such as former United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin and “Freakonomics” co-author Steven Levitt.