NSF program director to discuss grad fellowships


Giselle Muller-Parker

Undergraduate and beginning graduate students pursuing research-based master's or doctorates in science, technology, engineering or math can come to Mississippi State University to learn about applying for a $126,000 fellowship.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship provides three years of support for graduate school, and Gisele Muller-Parker, program director for the fellowship, will come to MSU on Friday, Sept. 28 to discuss how to apply for it, which will be part of the university's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Fall Forum.

Students may attend Muller-Parker's 9:30-11 a.m. session, while interested faculty may attend her 1:30-2:30 p.m. information presentation. Both free programs take place in Colvard Student Union's Fowlkes Auditorium.

"The fellowship award includes three years of funding, currently a total of $126,000, for an annual stipend and an educational allowance to pay required tuition and fees to support their graduate education at a U.S. accredited institution of their choice," Muller-Parker explained.

Seniors completing undergraduate degrees may apply in November 2012, she said, and students should start preparing their applications. The fellowship award does not involve a service requirement.

MSU biological sciences professor Gary Ervin benefited from his NSF fellowship when he was a graduate student, he explained.

"The fellowship really is helpful because it provides a monthly stipend to pay expenses," Ervin said. "The award also came with an educational allowance, which the graduate school administration at my school permitted NSF fellows to apply toward any graduate expenses.

"Not only did it cover tuition, fees and books, but we were able to apply any remaining funds toward our research."

Most of the time, however, fellowship recipients have no say in how the cost-of-education allowance is used by the university, Muller-Parker added.

Whether students get a say in how the fellowship award is spent or not, Ervin encouraged them to attend the presentation to discover whether they're eligible and how the fellowship can support their studies.

"Attending the NSF's session will be helpful for students who want to learn more about the application and award process: what should be included and how the application review process determines the award recipients," Ervin said. "It's a good opportunity for students to learn how to submit a successful application."

Muller-Parker said her presentations would include tips on how to apply, as well as resources available for students.

"The NSF Graduate Fellowship is an incredible opportunity to fund your graduate studies in STEM fields," she said. "And, preparing the GRFP application is very helpful to preparing your application to graduate school. Close to 50,000 fellowships have been offered since 1952. Your success rate is 0 percent if you don't apply."

To learn more about the GRFP, visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org.

Leah Barbour | University Relations

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