2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two Harvey Mudd College seniors, Olivia Watkins and Karina Cho, have been granted National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. In addition, five Harvey Mudd alumni were granted fellowships, and one senior, Shyan Akmal, and four alumni were awarded honorable mentions, which is considered a significant academic achievement.

Olivia Watkins

Olivia Watkins ’19

Watkins, who is a member of the 2018–2019 HP Inc. Clinic team charged with simulating and fixing visible anomalies in thermal inkjet printing with machine learning, plans to continue her computer science research in graduate school at UC Berkeley, specializing in artificial intelligence. A joint computer science and mathematics major, Watkins will spend the summer as an intern at Argo AI, a company developing self-driving technology for autonomous vehicles.

Karina Cho

Karina Cho ’19

Cho is a mathematics major whose thesis focuses on enhancing the quandle coloring invariant for knots and links. She recently committed to a mathematics PhD program at Stony Brook University and is interested in studying shapes using tools from abstract algebra.

This summer, Cho will enjoy time off with friends and family and also work as a counselor at the Duke University Summer Workshop in Mathematics, a program for high school senior girls interested in mathematics. “We will be going on field trips, learning about Markov chains and fluid dynamics and working on group research projects,” says Cho. “I am excited to not only engage in mathematics with them but also to be a mentor and to encourage girls who love math just like I do.”

Shyan Akmal

Shyan Akmal ’19

The honorable mention for Akmal, a joint computer science and math major, comes on the heels of another notable accomplishment: the publication of “Quantifying Degrees of Controllability in Temporal Networks with Uncertainty”—which Akmal coauthored last summer as a member of Harvey Mudd’s Human Experience & Agent Teamwork Lab—at the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling. In the fall, Akmal will enter the computer science PhD program in MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. “My plan right now is to study CS theory, specifically complexity theory,” he says.

The following Harvey Mudd alumni also received NSF Graduate Fellowships: Jason Casar ’18 (materials research–electronic materials, Stanford University), Katherine Crawford ’13 (bioengineering, UC Berkeley), Maya Martirossyan ’17 (materials research–materials theory, Cornell University), Daniel McCabe ’17 (civil engineering), Timothy Middlemas ’17 (chemistry–chemical theory, models and computational methods.

Harvey Mudd alumni receiving honorable mentions are: Benjamin Chasnov ’16 (electrical and electronic engineering), Kareesa Kron ’18 (chemistry–chemical structure, dynamics and mechanism), Elyse Pennington ’17 (chemical engineering), Shanel Wu ’16 (human computer interaction).

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.