Congratulations to our MSU students awarded an NSF Graduate Fellowship

MSU students receive prestigious award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship is highly sought after but very selective. With upwards of 13,000 applicants, roughly only 2,000 are chosen. We are extremely proud to announce MSU has three students who have been awarded this honor.

Felicity Singleton

Felicity is working with one of the most common organisms (an amoeboid microbe). Due to its common occurrence in nature, and its genus name (Vannella), it is often jokingly referred to as “vanilla”, but Felicity has uprooted the notion that they are an ordinary boring amoeba.

She has generated her own collection of these organisms from all over the USA and has started to show that they can be used to examine important traits such as the transition from salt water to fresh water or even to terrestrial environments. Her data has already shown that an interesting dispersal mechanism (sporocarp fruiting) occurs in at least two different lineages of this genus.

Her work as a graduate student will examine macroevolutionary transitions to different environments and help flesh out species concepts in microbes by looking at genomic differences in species that display different traits.

An added bonus, Felicity is also quite committed to working with grade school children to bring STEM into the classroom through outreach and tutoring activities.

 David Korba 

David has already made significant contributions to the research community with seven high-quality journal papers and one book chapter. During his Undergraduate and Graduate career, he received seven awards at MSU.

The research David is focusing on now as described by the NSF review board, “…could have high impact and multiple applications.”

The main contributions from his work can be summarized in two aspects: (1) improved fundamental understanding of the coupled reaction-transport in microscale materials, and (2) design of novel solar reactors and recommendation of operating conditions through high-fidelity simulations and close collaboration with experimentalists. Both are essential for next-generation materials/structures/devices design and innovation for high-efficiency thermochemical energy storage (TCES) to enable zero-carbon and sustainable energy technology deployment.

The Review board also had this to say, “The student has excellent academic experience and is well-prepared to conduct the proposed research project.”

 James Wehsener

Jimmy has always been passionate about wildlife conservation and has had the opportunity to work with some amazing animals over the years! He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley where he earned a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology. While at Berkeley he developed an undergraduate research project investigating the drivers of foraging behavior in an invasive gecko population in French Polynesia.

Currently Jimmy is a member of the Welch Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics Lab researching the anthropogenic impacts on the mating system of the endangered Turks and Caicos rock iguana. Through this work the hope is to identify a critical nesting habitat for the species and assess how humans have disrupted reproductive behaviors that are vital to the species survival.

Jimmy also strives to communicate scientific findings and the importance of wildlife conservation to the public through artwork, apparel, and social media (@wezwildlife).

Another one of our MSU students, Taylor Szasz, was recognized as an honorable mention by NSF.


Congratulations to all and thank you for your service, hard-work, and dedication.