NSF Marks 60th Anniversary of Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Event at NSF headquarters recognizes current and former Graduate Research Fellows, including winners of a video competition
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu was among the speakers at a celebration of the 60th anniversary of NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) today. GRFP is NSF's flagship program for graduate students in the science and engineering fields within NSF's mission. It has been in operation almost as long as NSF itself, making an investment in students with demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.
The investments have paid off well: Among more than 200 Nobel laureates who have had NSF support since 1950, 40 were selected as Graduate Research Fellows, including Secretary Chu in the 1970s. Graduate Research Fellows are well-represented among government leaders, business executives, writers, and members of the National Academy of Sciences. Examples include John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology; Marcia McNutt, director of the United States Geological Survey; Lawrence Summers, former director of the U.S. National Economic Council; Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google; Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago and a member of the National Science Board; and Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics. Currently, about 12,000 students apply annually for Graduate Research Fellowships; 2,000 receive awards, which they take to U.S. graduate institutions of their choice.
"Today's Graduate Research Fellows will be tomorrow's leading scientists and engineers," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "They will be called upon to embrace the opportunities and challenges of a new era in science, marked by growing interdisciplinary and cross-border scientific challenges and opportunities. NSF has had a long and distinguished history of identifying leaders and pioneers in science and engineering through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program."
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the program, Suresh also announced the launch of Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW), a coordinated NSF effort to accelerate international research collaboration by providing new and expanded opportunities for NSF Graduate Research Fellows.
The event also included awarding prizes to winners of a video contest that challenged active Graduate Research Fellows to create 90-second videos showing how their research could help shape the future. Judges included former Fellows, NSF staff and members of the media. There was also a People's Choice Award where 1,975 people voted on their top video. Winners received cash prizes and had their videos shown during the celebration. Winners were:
First prize - Eric Keen, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Second prize and People's Choice Award - Candy Hwang, Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California
Third prize - Erica Staaterman, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
As the GRFP moves into its seventh decade, a new round of Fellows will be announced in the spring of 2013.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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