Grads Awarded Prestigious NSF Fellowships

Two graduate students working in the social sciences at UC Davis have received 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program recruits high-potential, early-career scientists and engineers and supports their graduate research training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Launched in 1952, it represents the nation's oldest continuous investment in the U.S. STEM workforce.

Savannah Hunter, PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, received a fellowship for her project Examining the Effect of Work Schedule Variability, Unpredictability, and Control on Perceptions of Job Security.

"I feel incredibly honored to have been selected to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship," she said. "Knowing that experts in my discipline and NSF staff felt my research and merit as a scholar worth funding is both humbling and confidence-boosting. The award provides funding for three years and will allow me to devote more time to my research and training as a future sociologist of work."

Of her project, she said: "Not only are lower perceptions of job security connected to negative outcomes for workers, business, and the economy, but understanding the impact of unstable work schedules on perceptions of job security can speak to workers’ experiences with, and understanding of, unstable work in our current era more broadly." 

The other UC Davis student to be named a fellow is Patricia McNeill, PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. Her project, Understanding Hunter-Gatherer Mobility using Sr Isotopes in Ostrich Egg Shell, will "exploit ostrich eggshell samples from Later Stone Age archaeological deposits along the Varsche River in southern Namaqualand, South Africa to answer questions about complex systems of behavior, such as trade networks, human mobility practices, subsistence strategies, and foraging habits."

Patricia said that she is honored and grateful to receive the fellowship, "not to mention more than a bit amazed to have been chosen. Receiving this fellowship means that I can focus wholly on my project without the burden of financial worry, but also, it opens the door for future opportunities through the NSF and will permit me access to resources that can advance my research."

Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. In total this year, the NSF selected 2,000 GRFP recipients from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants. 

"To support U.S. leadership and innovation in science and engineering, we must recognize and nurture talent from all of our nation's communities," said Jim Lewis, NSF acting assistant director for Education and Human Resources.

Learn more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.