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Students awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 18, 2013 – The National Science Foundation awarded six Virginia Tech students with prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships. Another 10 students received honorable mentions.

The awardees, all from the College of Engineering, include

  • Adelaja Arojuraye of Alexandria, Va., a doctoral student in electrical engineering. Arojuraye is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and Golden Key Honor Society. At Virginia Tech, he has been involved with the following research topics: “Feasibility and guidelines for the development of cicrogrids in campus type facilities,” “Bi-level demand sensitive LED street lighting systems,” “Smart grid information clearinghouse,” “Demand response management,” and “Real-time distributed systems modeling” under the direction of Saifur Rahman, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech.
  • Winston Becker of Advance, N.C., a senior University Honors student majoring in engineering science and mechanics. Becker is a 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient. He is a member of the inaugural cohort of Scieneers and has engaged in several undergraduate research projects on topics such as the biomechanics of insect tracheal tubes under the mentorship of Raffaella De Vita, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics; the physiochemical properties of polymers guided by Rich Gandour, professor in the Department of Chemistry; and the biomedical applications of Mesoporous silica under Cai Quiag, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
  • Daniel Drew of Oak Hill, Va., a senior majoring in materials science and engineering. He participated in the MIT Summer Research Program. He presented his work, “A low-loss voltage actuated switch using metal-polymer nanocomposite,” at the 2012 AGMUS Research Symposium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the 2012 SACNAS National Conference in Seattle, winning best undergraduate poster presentation at both conferences.
  • Elizabeth Godfrey of Norfolk, Va., a senior majoring in civil engineering. Godfrey researched the 2011 earthquake that impacted landmark structures in Washington, D.C., such as the Washington Monument. Her faculty mentor on the project wa C. Guney Olgun, research assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Godfrey was selected to present her research at the 2013 Posters on the Hill event through the National Council on Undergraduate Research.
  • Patrick Goley of Gaithersburg, Md., a senior University Honors student majoring in electrical engineering. Goley is a member of the Honors Residential College living-learning community, where he served as co-president in the community’s inaugural year. He was a recipient of a Curiosity Aspire! Award from the Division of Student Affairs. His research investigates “High-k gate dielectrics for germanium based transistors, and III-V multijunction solar cells on silicon substrates,” under the direction of Mantu Hudait, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of Advanced Devices & Sustainable Energy Laboratory at Virginia Tech.
  • Christopher Prohoda of Springfield, Va., a senior University Honors student majoring in engineering science and mechanics. Prohoda is a member of the Honors Residential College living-learning community. In addition, he is actively involved in InnovateEDU, a blog run by a group of students who are interested in developing ideas to innovate education at Virginia Tech, through interdisciplinary learning.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowships honors outstanding students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics who are pursuing graduate studies in those respective fields. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, plus opportunities for international research and professional development. In addition, NSF provides a cost of education allowance. Virginia Tech also adds an additional stipend to cover the costs of research equipment, health insurance and similar expenses.

The NSF anticipates for fellows “to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.”

Ten students received honorable mentions. The NSF calls this honor “a significant national academic achievement.” Students receive some benefits, including access to cyberinfrastructure resources through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment.

  • Sahnzi Moyers of Portland, Ore., a doctoral student in biological sciences in the College of Science
  • Charles Forman of Newport News, Va., a senior majoring in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Katherine Degen of Roanoke, Va., a doctoral student in biomedical engineering through the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering
  • Caitlin Proctor of Stafford, Va., a master’s student in civil engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Caleb Magruder of Leesburg, Va., a master’s student in math in the College of Science
  • Amanda Fisher of Blacksburg, Va., a doctoral student in computational biology and bioinformatics in the College of Engineering
  • Madison Brandon, a master’s student in math in the College of Science
  • Peter Fino of Blacksburg, Va., a doctoral student in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Eric Carlson of Christiansburg, Va., a doctoral student in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering
  • Austin Cory Bart of Newark, Del., a doctoral student in computer science in the College of Engineering

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.