Four PSU students chosen for prestigious NSF fellowship
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Posted: April 10, 2018

Four Portland State University students have been selected for the prestigious National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The fellowship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. It provides them with three years of financial support to pursue graduate work.

 There were more than 12,000 applicants and only 2,000 were chosen. The fellows from PSU are students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Emma Goodwin, Dorothy Horn, Karley Maier and Elena Christopher-Allison.

Each of the fellows will receive an annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance.

Goodwin is a Ph.D. student in professor Erin Shortlidge's biology education research lab. Much of her research focuses on course-based undergraduate research experiences, an increasingly popular type of lab course where students conduct experiments to answer relevant research questions.

"I am especially excited to receive the fellowship not only because it allows me to spend more of my time pursuing my research, but also because it helps expand the growing biology education research field," she said.

Horn, who is a military veteran in the Earth, Environment and Society doctoral program, said she feels very lucky and thankful to have received the award.

She is studying how microplastics affect the health of marine animals that ingest them and whether their accumulation up the food chain is harmful. Her research will assess the biological effects of microplastic ingestion in sand crabs and nearshore fish that predominantly feed on them along the Oregon coast and Costa Rica's north Pacific coast.

Maier, who received her undergraduate degree from PSU in biochemistry, is pursuing her doctorate in chemistry, with her research focused on the design and optimization of MRI contrast agents. She said receiving the fellowship is an honor.

"I am so grateful to my terrific mentors here at PSU and I can't wait to use this opportunity to improve my research and passion for science outreach," she said. "It means a lot to represent the university and the chemistry department on a national level and I couldn't be more excited about this accomplishment."
Christopher-Allen, who will be graduating this June with a degree in chemistry and minor in mathematics, plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall to get a master's degree in environmental engineering. There, she will be working on a project that explores best practices for dealing with the pollution highway communities experience.

She credits the guidance and support from her peers and professors with helping her get to this point and encouraged others to apply for the fellowship.

"The application itself was challenging but taught me skills I will need in my future career in research," she said.

Launched in 1952, the fellowship represents the nation's oldest continuous investment in the U.S. STEM workforce.

"To support U.S. leadership and innovation in science and engineering, we must recognize and nurture talent from all of our nation's communities," said Jim Lewis, NSF's acting assistant director for education and human resources. "I am pleased that again this year, the competition has selected talented students from all economic backgrounds and all demographic categories."

Photo caption: From left are Emma Goodwin, Dorothy Horn, Karley Maier and Elena Christopher-Allison.