Foundation system

Emory students and recent graduates receive National Science Foundation research grants

The National Science Foundation has awarded coveted Postgraduate Research Fellowships to five scholars who graduated this year from Emory College of Arts and Sciences and two recent College alumni who have yet to begin degree programs. superior. Eleven doctoral students from Emory’s Laney Graduate School also received awards.

The nation’s oldest continuing graduate scholarship, the NSF Award provides an annual stipend of $34,000 over three years, as well as $12,000 in tuition stipends to scholars’ graduate schools and access to professional development and international research programs.

Emory recipients are among 2,100 early-career scientists and engineers selected for their high potential in science, technology and engineering. Over 12,000 applications were reviewed.

The Emory College Class of 2022 recipients are Becky Cloud, Greg Kimmerer, Anna Voss, Maggie Weber, and Jennifer (Yiyang) Zheng. The two Emory College alumni are Tralucia Powell 18C, an incoming graduate student at the University of Minnesota in clinical and developmental psychology, and Jocelyn Stanfield 20C, who will return to Emory for graduate studies in clinical psychology. Calen MacDonald (cognitive psychology) and Erin Morrow (cognitive neuroscience), both from the class of 2022, received honorable mentions.

Eleven doctoral students from the Laney Graduate School have received the NSF scholarship:

  • Yasmine Bassil (neuroscience)
  • Angela Bruce (chemistry)
  • SJ Dillon (anthropology)
  • Ariel Gale (chemistry)
  • Ethan Heyboer (chemistry)
  • Mackenzie Hoogshagen (ecology)
  • Samantha Horwitz (chemistry)
  • Alessandra Luna (biomedical engineering)
  • Katelyn Oliver (neuroscience)
  • Kristen Patterson (chemistry)
  • Katherine Soderberg (psychology)

Learn more about the five undergraduate recipients of the Class of 2022:

Becky’s Cloud

Cloud, a native of Glenview, Illinois, graduated with full honors with a major in biology and a minor in quantitative science.

With a long-standing interest in the complex relationships of biological organisms, she joined the lab of Emory disease ecologist David Civitello as a sophomore to work with the parasitic worm that grows in snails and infects humans. with schistosomiasis, a tropical disease.

Paired with graduate mentor Kelsey Shaw, Cloud aimed to quantify the impacts of host snail population size structure on the transmission of the often overlooked disease, also known as snail fever. His honors thesis confirmed that varying ratios of snails of different sizes within a population play a role in snail-schistosome. The results can be used to inform parasite control and the use of molluscicides in endemic areas.

“I developed a special interest in disease ecology through my classes at Emory in which I was able to explore the biology topics that interested me the most,” says Cloud. “I find particular value in the research carried out by the Civitello laboratory because it has allowed me to carry out at the same time fundamental research in ecology with implications for human health.”

Cloud, who conducted research with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last summer, will begin his doctorate this fall in the university’s program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology. She plans to continue her previous research on the mosquito disease system there, studying the ecology of mosquito vectors with the aim of informing mosquito control efforts.

Greg Kimmerer

Kimmerer, a native of Lexington, Ky., and Emory Woodruff Scholar, earned a dual degree in biology and applied math and statistics.

A 2021 Goldwater Scholar, Kimmerer began conducting research on gene regulation in the lab of Emory biologist Leila Rieder during her freshman year on campus. The research included inserting new DNA sequences into fruit fly embryos and then waiting for the insects to grow to conduct heat shock experiments to better understand gene expression at the most basic biological level. .

Starting last summer, Kimmerer expanded her interest in understanding cellular responses by working remotely on a computer model of diabetic kidney disease with Ashlee Ford-Versypt at the State University of New York at Buffalo. This work allowed him to develop several model equations and test which approaches could accurately model the complex effects of chronically high blood sugar on kidney cells.

“What excites me about a biophysical approach is that the discoveries you make apply to a wide range of biological phenomena, not just the specific biological system you’re studying,” Kimmerer says. “Mathematics is a more unifying framework.”

Kimmerer will apply his scholarship towards pursuing a doctorate in quantitative and computational biology at Princeton University. He hopes to continue his research on gene regulation from a biophysical perspective.

Anna Voss

Voss, who grew up in Marietta, Georgia, graduated with top honors in neuroscience and behavioral biology.

A 2021 Goldwater Scholar, Voss has conducted neurogenetics research since beginning a computer science research position in Michael Epstein’s lab while still in high school.

As a freshman at Emory, she became one of the first recruits to the lab of Steven Sloan, an assistant professor of human genetics who specializes in the study of brain glial cells in neurodevelopmental disorders. Voss examined whether neurons send the messages to form a specific type of glial cell called astrocytes.

His discovery that a combination of five specific proteins contributes to astrocyte development became his honors thesis – which was submitted for publication in a journal with Voss as first author. Understanding how astrocytes develop may be key to uncovering their role in developmental disorders, from autism to schizophrenia.

“In the brain, things don’t happen individually. There are always multiple factors at play,” Voss says. “In the future, I’m excited to see more of how they interact and which pathways are activated. We are only at the first stage of this understanding.

Voss envisions a career in understanding the impact of glial cells on psychiatric disorders. She will apply her scholarship towards pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.

Maggie Weber

Weber, a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, graduated with highest honors in biology.

Her interest in interspecies interactions and epigenetics, which examines how behavior and environment can alter gene function, brought her to the lab of Emory biologist David Civitello.

Weber began his lab work remotely, before returning to campus last summer and working with doctoral student Lynda Bradley. His project examined how nutritious legumes such as agricultural runoff might affect snail populations and the parasitic worm known as schistosomes that thrive within them.

The experience led her to complete a research thesis on the impacts of an invasive plant diet on host snails. Weber’s year-long study of individual snails showed that a diet of invasive water hyacinth was more damaging to large snails than to small snails. Snail size and diet are particularly important because large, well-fed snails have a greater potential for transmission of schistosomes to humans.

“I’m particularly interested in the role of the environment in host-parasite interactions and disease dynamics,” says Weber. “I think it’s really important to our approach to human and environmental health.”

Weber will apply his fellowship to a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University this fall. She plans to continue her research by studying how the environment can affect the co-evolution of host-parasite interactions in large mammals with more complex immune systems.

Jennifer (Yiyang) Zheng

Zheng, a native of Shanghai, China, graduated with highest honors with a double degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Musical Piano Performance.

She shifted her initial interest in data science to mathematics in her second year, when she realized the applications of mixed-precision arithmetic, the standard for accelerating deep learning models. Having played the piano for 17 years, she is particularly interested in the application of concrete mathematics to analyze music and musical characteristics.

As a 2020 summer intern at Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Mathematics Research, Zheng used this interest and skill to help develop a modified watermarking scheme on audio data that improved robustness. while maintaining the security of existing algorithms.

She continued this work in her honors thesis, examining how to use mixed-precision arithmetic to improve accuracy and efficiency with ill-conditioned inverse problems. His adviser was James G. Nagy, Professor Samuel Candler Dobbs and chair of Emory’s mathematics department.

“Computational mathematics has such a wide range of applications,” Zheng says. “So far I’ve focused on numerical analysis, but I’m interested in optimization, especially when it comes to musical characteristics.”

Zheng will apply her fellowship to a PhD at Stanford University’s Institute of Computational and Mathematical Engineering, where she is interested in examining subfields of computational mathematics, including optimization, and their applications. to the music.