Pair of Auburn graduate students awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Published: May 22, 2020
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Two graduate students in Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics have been awarded Graduate Research Fellowships by the National Science Foundation, or NSF.

Akilah Alwan and Victoria Coutts have been awarded fellowships that provide up to three years of support for graduate education, including a $34,000 annual stipend and $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.

Alwan, a doctoral student in the Department of Geosciences, is conducting research in a project focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and learning. Coutts, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, is pursuing a project in physiology.

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Numerous Auburn graduate students have been awarded fellowships through the program the past 20 years.

The reputation of the fellowship 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; U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu; Google founder Sergey Brin; and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. In addition to funding support, fellows also enjoy opportunities for international research and professional development.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.