NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Recipients 2017

2017 NSF GRFP RecipientKelly McKenzie is one of six University of Arkansas students to receive the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award for 2017. Kelly is a senior Honors College member who will graduate in May with BS degrees in electrical engineering and physics. She plans to begin a PhD program this fall to study solar cells for terrestrial energy applications, an area she has been passionate about throughout her undergraduate career.

“I pursued electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas because I always wanted to work on solar cell research and this was the best fit”, said Kelly.

The National Science Foundation has been awarding the Graduate Research Fellowship since 1952. The award is highly competitive and has a long history of selecting future experts in STEM fields with the potential of making significant contributions to their field.

“This fellowship gives me the opportunity to pursue any research project that I want, because I won’t be limited by grant funding from a professor”, said Kelly. “The organization is basically saying, ‘we believe that you have the promise to be a very productive and innovative researcher and we want to make sure that you have the  funding to pursue the research that you’re interested in”.

The fellowship, which amounts to $32,000 per year, has a maximum tenure period of three years, and includes a $12,000 cost of education allowance paid to the student’s institution. At this point, Kelly is considering Arizona State University and the California Institute of Technology.

During the three-year fellowship tenure, Kelly hopes to grow into the lab, make some progress on her research, and publish some of her findings. “I couldn’t have done this without the support and resources from my department”.