Record number of Trojans earn NSF fellowship

The National Science Foundation, a U.S. government agency that supports research and education in science and engineering, awarded 24 USC students with the 2017 Graduate Research Fellowship on March 17.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship was founded 65 years ago and has a long history of selecting recipients who go on to achieve success in their future academic and professional careers. Every year, around 13,000 applicants compete for 2,000 of these prestigious fellowships, which provide a $34,000 annual stipend for three years and an additional $12,000 for tuition.

Currently, 42 fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, according to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program website, the program has a high rate of doctorate degree completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their doctorates within 11 years.

The recipients encompassed both recent alumni and current students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. With 24 recipients and another 12 students earning honorable mentions, this year’s total is USC’s highest ever number of recipients. In 2015, 15 USC students won awards, and the number of recipients rose to 19 students in 2016. The increase is indicative of the USC faculty’s dedication to cultivating the next generation of young scholars.

The Class of 2017 recipients have backgrounds in a wide variety of fields and disciplines, including psychology, computer science, chemistry, gerontology and neuroscience, among others. Additionally, 19 of the 24 recipients were female, reflecting a concerted effort made by USC to recruit more women and minorities into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The USC Graduate School, sponsored by funding from the USC Provost, hosted a summer boot camp for applicants to the NSF and other major awards. The 10-day intensive writing workshop supported students through the stringent process and provided guidance from faculty members as well as a stipend of $1,000, so students could focus on their applications.