This past Tuesday was the submission deadline for applications for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. This is an incredibly competitive program, which provides a hefty support package in the form of three years of funding and tuition reimbursement for a graduate student working toward a PhD in a science or engineering program. Personally, I spent that last month preparing my application materials with the hope of winning this prestigious fellowship. But the odds certainly are not in my favor. In 2012, NSF received over 13,000 applications, and awarded 2,000 fellowships- just a 15% success rate.
In other words, I am fully prepared for rejection. If I receive the NSF fellowship, my pursuit to become a professor at a research institution will be made much easier. I would be ecstatic. But even if I do not receive the award, the experience I gained writing the personal and research statements was invaluable. Through the writing process I was able to evaluate my career goals and the direction of my graduate research. I was also able to remind myself why I am studying Geology – to understand the planet on which we live, to learn more about out natural resources, and ultimately to share my knowledge with the general public, whether it is to students, citizens, or government officials. This experience reaffirmed my passion for studying Earth Science, and I can only thank NSF for providing me with this opportunity.
But I have not lost hope. I am confident that I deserve a NSF graduate research fellowship, but until then I will begin preparing my application materials for the many other funding opportunities I plan on applying for in the next several months.
Yesterday the New Mexico Academy of Science (NMAS), in conjunction with NM EPSCoR, held their annual research symposium in Downtown Albuquerque, and I am glad to have been a part of it.
NMAS is a premier advocate and resource for science and science education in New Mexico., and is providing students with the resources we need to carry out research.
NM EPSCoR is an NSF funded experimental program to stimulate competitive research. The specific goals of the program are: (1) to develop the research infrastructure necessary for New Mexico to answer the fundamental and applied research questions to improve energy extraction efficiencies and sustainable energy development; and (2) to improve the state’s research competitiveness in sustainable energy development, STEM education, and workforce and economic development capacity.
The focus of this year’s meeting was renewable energy solutions, and the day started off with a keynote by Abe Ellis (Sandia National Labs) on the status of solar energy in an increasingly demanding energy market. The remainder of the symposium included presentations, both oral and poster form, from students and research scientists doing research aimed at tackling energy and environmental challenges.
Presentations were followed by a reception in which several awards were given out to students who have demonstrated excellence in their research, and to teachers who are promoting studies in STEM fields and enabling their students to achieve their goals.
Overall it was a successful day in which students, faculty, research scientists, and teachers got to meet, to share knowledge and ideas, and to build partnerships.