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Dr. Eric Stemp with Mount Saint Mary's alum Kelsey Miller '13 during her time as an undergraduate student at the Mount. Miller and fellow alum Jessica Cardenas '13 were each chosen to receive a prestigious 2015 National Science Foundation fellowship.

Two alums named National Science Foundation fellows

The accolades keep coming for STEM alums of Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles. This week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the recipients of its coveted, pre-doctoral 2015 Graduate Research Fellowships.

Two of those fellowship winners: Jessica Cardenas ’13 and Kelsey Miller ’13, who each graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s with a biochemistry degree.  

Of the more than 16,500 eligible applicants for this year’s competitive fellowships, only 12% earned the awards. This also marks the first year that the University has had more than one recipient of this fellowship in the same year.

What do Cardenas and Miller get out of the fellowship? For starters, they will each have their graduate expenses paid for, enabling them to focus solely on research. The NSF provides a $34,000 annual stipend, along with a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution, for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering.

Of course, the award also gives these Mount alums a big advantage in the future with this prestigious award on their résumés. Cardenas and Miller both took their first steps toward a career in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) while at Mount Saint Mary’s. 

Cardenas worked with Dr. Denise Cizmeciyan during her undergraduate research at the Mount, and is now in the biochemistry PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Miller, meanwhile, conducted her undergraduate research with Dr. Eric Stemp, chair of the Mount’s Department of Physical Sciences. She is currently pursuing her PhD in chemistry at the University of California, Irvine.

“Both students were outstanding student-researchers while here at the Mount,” Stemp says. “And having had the opportunity to work with Kelsey directly, this award comes as no surprise, as she was already doing the work of a graduate researcher while here at the Mount. Kelsey would work tirelessly to overcome obstacles. This award is well-deserved and reflects both her intellectual ability and her passion for science."

Since 1952, the National Science Foundation has provided fellowships to individuals early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. A high priority for NSF and GRFP is increasing the diversity of the science and engineering workforce, including geographic distribution and the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans. 

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