Students Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships
The students were selected from the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium - federally funded programs at the UA that help prepare students for graduate school at the UA or elsewhere.

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications
May 1, 2012

Five students who participated in federally funded graduate education preparatory programs for low-income, first-generation or underrepresented students at the University of Arizona have earned National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships. 

The fellowships provide three years of support including a $30,000 stipend annually and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance as well as opportunities for international research and professional development.

The NSF fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

The students were selected from the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program and from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium – federally funded programs at the UA that work to help prepare students for the rigors of graduate school at the UA or elsewhere.

Fellowships were awarded to the following UA McNair students:

  • Heather Bruce, UA McNair alumna of 2008 and second year molecular and cellular doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley
  • Edritz Javelosa, a molecular and cellular biology major who currently is studying in China
  • Eduardo Moreno, a mechanical engineering alumnus who is working on a master's degree and will pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Stanford University
  • Jennifer Sepulveda, a UA plant sciences and molecular and cellular biology honors student and graduating senior

Charles Mackin, an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium student graduating with honors in electrical engineering, also was awarded a fellowship.  

"We are thrilled by the achievements of these stellar scholars. The awards underscore the value of targeted and individualized support that is provided by faculty mentors and staff of the McNair and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium programs. Clearly, a small investment in talented underrepresented students can yield huge dividends," said Maria Teresa Velez, associate dean of the UA Graduate College where the graduate education preparatory programs are housed.

The McNair 10-week summer research program and its weekly semester meetings and the year-round research experience of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium help to prepare students for graduate school while they learn to conduct research. The programs also help students with the application process for graduate school.

Moreno credits the UA McNair program with his success at Stanford, where he was invited by a professor to serve as a research assistant helping with an underwater robotics project – an expertise he fine-tuned while an undergraduate at the UA.

"The McNair program provides direct support and an organized way to prepare for graduate school. It was a big comfort having the UA representatives for the program as a network. They were like a family of go-to-people for a variety college-related questions," he said.

"The UA is a big place. It's easy to get lost, but it's also easy to find yourself once you are aware of what's out there," said Sepulveda, an honors student.

She said she initially chose the UA for its strong science programs and found other support programs such as the New Start and Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs helpful.

"The research opportunities at the UA are top-notch, and with McNair, I was better able to focus on what I wanted to do," Sepulveda said. She will begin pursing a doctorate in the fall at the UA with the aid of the fellowship.