NSF Graduate Fellowships Announced

Priya Donti, a Harvey Mudd College senior with an interest in climate change and renewable energy, was granted a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In addition, six recent Harvey Mudd graduates received the prestigious awards.

One current senior and five alumni received honorable mentions.

Donti received the NSF Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding students pursuing advanced degrees in the STEM disciplines, for proposed multidisciplinary work using artificial intelligence—specifically, multi-agent scheduling (scheduling events, both expected and unexpected, in a setting with multiple actors)—in smart grid technology. Her research goal is to understand how to best elicit and construct user preference models based on human-computer interaction, creating a more efficient energy grid and ultimately slowing the effects of climate change.

“As non-renewable energy sources become increasingly scarce and climate change impacts become more severe, the need has emerged for a smart electricity grid that operates efficiently and facilitates integration of renewable energy sources,” says Donti, a joint major in computer science and mathematics. She will conduct graduate research at Carnegie Mellon University, applying insights from literature about constraints, preference representations and multi-agent scheduling to construct software simulations of smart houses connected to a smart grid.

“I feel extremely lucky to have received the award, and am motivated to use it to do good work that positively impacts the world around me,” says Donti, who received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to explore the cultural and social ramifications of renewable energy policy. Donti will begin the NSF Fellowship upon return from her Watson year.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship supports graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited institutions. Recipients are awarded three years of research support, including an annual $34,000 stipend, and may also take advantage of research opportunities abroad and access to supercomputing resources. The award also includes a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the graduate institution.

The following Harvey Mudd alumni also received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships:

Alumnus/a Research Area Graduate School
Olivia Beckwith ’13 (math) Algebra, Number Theory and Combinatorics Emory University
William Chen ’12 (mathematical biology) Ecology University of Washington
Martha Cuenca ’13 (engineering) Civil Engineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Robert Kealhofer ’13 (physics) Condensed Matter Physics UC Berkeley
Matthew McDermott ’14 (math) Statistics n/a
Anastasia Patterson ’14 (chemistry) Chemistry of Materials UC Santa Barbara

For meritorious applicants who do not receive fellowship awards, the NSF awards honorable mention, considered a significant academic achievement.

Harvey Mudd senior Eun Bin Go (joint chemistry and biology) received an honorable mention for her work in chemical synthesis. Several alumni also earned honorable mentions:

Alumnus/a Research Area Graduate School
Thomas Carey ’13 (biology) Biomedical Engineering Massachusetts General Hospital
Millie Fung ’11 (chemistry & biology) Chemical Measurement and Imaging UC Irvine
Carola Purser ’13 (physics) Condensed Matter Physics Ohio State University
Paul Riggins ’12 (physics) Theoretical Physics UC Berkeley
Alexandra Schofield ’13 (CS & math) Natural Language Processing Cornell University

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program helps ensure the vitality and diversity of the nation’s base of science and engineering candidates. Fellows are seen as crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation’s technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well being of society at large.

Program participants are expected to become experts who contribute significantly to research, education and innovation in the STEM fields. Former NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers, and been honored as Nobel laureates.