University of Vermont

UVM Students and Alumni Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Ally Degrassi, UVM doctoral student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow

Doctoral student Allyson Degrassi in UVM’s department of biology has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Award. This lucrative and prestigious fellowship is awarded to graduate students who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit and who have the potential to have a broad and significant impact in their respective fields.

Degrassi has been conducting research on population and community ecology since beginning her doctorate work at UVM in 2011. Under her adviser, Professor Nick Gotelli, Degrassi is examining the effects of eastern hemlocks and their decline on small mammal (rodent and shrews) population and community dynamics. Specifically, she is examining how hemlocks support small mammal diversity and foraging behavior and what the loss of hemlocks means to the small mammal populations.

"Ally is a non-traditional student with a passion for conservation biology and considerable expertise in the ecology of small mammals,” Gotelli says. “She is also an inspirational teacher in the classroom who has served as a role model and mentor for the many students who do field work with her."

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is a prestigious and lucrative award for graduate students and will ensure that Degrassi has adequate funding to continue her studies for the next three years.  NSF Graduate Fellows receive a yearly living stipend of $30,000, as well as a cost-of-education allowance that goes toward university tuition and fees.

Sam Parker, a graduate student in the Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources, also received Honorable Mention recognition in this year’s competition. After graduating with an environmental sciences degree from UVM’s Rubenstein School for the Environment in 2009, Parker returned to the university to work on his doctorate in natural resources. He is working under Professor Breck Bowden and is currently conducting research as a part of the Scale, Consumers, and Lotic Ecosystem Rates (SCALER) Project on the North Slope of Alaska.

In addition to Degrassi and Parker, several UVM alumni also received recognition in the 2013 NSF Fellowship Competition. Elizabeth Sander '12, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in the biological sciences department at the University of Chicago, received a fellowship. Bridget Kreger ’09, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in the molecular biology and genetics department at Cornell University, received a fellowship. Amanda Daly ’07, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in the biochemistry department at the University of New Hampshire, also received a fellowship.

Other UVM alums received honorable mention recognition in the 2013 competition. Those students are Nicholas Cheney '12 (a current PhD. student in the computational biology program at Cornell University), Emily Matys ‘09
 (a graduate student in the geobiology department at MIT), and 
Elias Rosenblatt '10 (an environmental sciences graduate who is currently in graduate school at Montana State University).