Four Colorado State University Students Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Four Colorado State University graduate students have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships: Philip Wheeler in chemistry, Sarah Evans in ecology, Jessica Ernakovich in ecology and Cortney Cowley in environmental engineering.

These nationally competitive grants cover $10,500 annually in educational costs, and provide an additional $30,000 annual stipend for three years – funds for international travel and the use of the TeraGrid supercomputer.

Wheeler, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry, received the fellowship to continue his research in synthetic methodology. Wheeler, who is originally from Monterey County, Calif., completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of California – Santa Cruz. Before enrolling in the doctorate program at Colorado State, he worked as a process chemist for Amgen for three years. Wheeler came to CSU with an NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship that provided funds for the first two years of graduate school. The Graduate Research Fellowship will provide funds for his remaining three years.

Wheeler works with Tom Rovis in the chemistry department, researching new reactions in organic chemistry. The NSF grant will provide funds to continue his research, which could have future impacts on the development of drugs to treat or cure diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.

Evans, a doctorate student in ecology, is originally from Huntsville, Ala. She completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at Grinnell College before enrolling in the doctoral program at Colorado State. She works with Matt Wallenstein in the CSU Natural Resource Ecology Lab and Indy Burke from the University of Wyoming. She is currently studying the response of semi-arid ecosystems to climate change, and specifically, how predicted changes in precipitation might alter nutrient cycling in these systems. Her research involves long-term experiments at the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research site.

Ernakovich, also a doctoral student in ecology, received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Ernakovich is originally from Pleasanton and chose CSU because of her advisor and the reputation of CSU’s ecology program.

The fellowship will support Ernakovich’s research to investigate the carbon released to the atmosphere as a result of permafrost thaw in the Arctic.

“I’m delighted to have two graduate students awarded this prestigious fellowship. They are emblematic of the high quality of our graduate students in the Natural Resource Ecology Lab and the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU. Our students are engaged in cutting-edge research that will advance our fundamental understanding of ecological processes and enable society to have the knowledge required to be better stewards of our changing planet,” Wallenstein said.

Cowley is a master’s student in civil and environmental engineering. She received her bachelor’s degree in biosystems and agricultural engineering at Oklahoma State University. Cowley’s primary reason for choosing CSU was the reputation of the civil and environmental engineering program. For graduate school, Cowley was enthusiastic about attending a school with a commitment to sustainability.

Cowley is currently working with Mazdak Arabi, Sybil Sharvelle and Ken Carlson. The fellowship will support ongoing research dealing with antibiotics and hormones from agricultural and waste water treatment plant activities. The project will include taking water samples in the Poudre River (and possibly Boulder Creek) basins as well as a watershed scale analysis of the contaminant transport, and potential management actions for their control.

For more information on the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, or other nationally competitive scholarships, contact the CSU Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships at (970) 491-6742.