Undergraduate Student at Colorado State University Awarded National Science Foundation Fellowship

Matt Kortus, a Colorado State University undergraduate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Loveland, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The three-year fellowship for graduate study leads to research-based graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, according to the university’s Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarship Programs.

Kortus works in Professor Olve Peersen’s laboratory performing structural and biochemical characterization of viral polymerase enzymes.

Kortus recently took second place in the poster competition at the regional Rocky Mountain Virology meeting, beating out 19 graduate and post-doctoral students in a competition where the judges did not realize he was an undergraduate. Last year he also was awarded Highest Honors at CSU’s Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase.

Kortus is the president of Students as Leaders in Science and the Biochemistry Club, vice president of the College of Natural Sciences Ambassadors and a former member of the CSU chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. Kortus also has worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for general microbiology and has tutored students in biochemistry, organic chemistry, cell biology, and human physiology.

The fellowship provides an annual stipend and $10,500 cost of education allowance for three years. Kortus will use the first year of funding to finish his bachelor’s and master’s dual degree in biochemistry at CSU next year before pursuing his doctoral degree.

NSF also awarded an honorable mention to Nancy Tao, a chemistry and music double major from Fort Collins. Tao works in the chemistry lab of John Wood and recently held a summer internship in the Department of Process Research at Merck Research Laboratories. In addition to playing the violin, she founded the Colorado Asian Chamber Ensemble, a 20-piece orchestra designed to preserve, arrange and perform Chinese folk melodies.

In this competition cycle, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awarded 2,000 new three-year graduate fellowships and 2,056 honorable mentions. More than 12,000 applications were received.