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The Daily Wildcat


STEM students receive national fellowship

Carlos Herrera
Carlos Herrera / The Daily Wildcat First year graduate student Jose Miguel Rodas talks about his recent fellowship award through the National Science Foundation that provides an annual stipend of $32,000 and a $12,000 allowance to fund tuition and fees over a three-year period. Rodas’ focus is family studies and human development.

The National Science Foundation awarded 22 UA students and alumni with a Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The NSF looks to provide fellowships to students who showcase potential for achievement in any of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes early in their graduate careers. The recipients are selected through a nationwide competition, according to its press release.

Jose Miguel Rodas, a family studies and human development graduate student, is one of the 22 students from the UA who received the award.

Rodas said his area of research deals with cultural and societal influences on the family dynamics of Latino families, specifically in the relationships between parents and their children. Rodas has been awarded $32,000 per year over the course of three years for his research.

Another recipient of the NSF fellowship was senior Casey Mackin, who is studying electrical engineering and computer science.

Rodas and Mackin were both required to write research proposals in order to receive the award and funding for the graduate school research.

Mackin said his research proposal for the NSF fellowship was based on hybrid control systems for autonomous cars.

Rodas’ proposal focused on how college can affect Latino families.

“For the fellowship, what I did was I wrote a proposal on how the college environment alters the relationship between Latino college students and their families,” Rodas said, “and how they can detect depressive symptoms and mental health outcome, and also looking into resiliency.”

Rodas is studying the costs of the students “breaking up with their families” compared with the benefits of them going to college, and how their relationships change through that process.

“This award shows that this [topic] is worthy,” Rodas said. “It gives me a lot of confidence that maybe grad school is right for me.”

Mackin said he became interested in computer science research during the summer of his sophomore year while doing research on reconfigurable embedded systems at UC Berkeley. Mackin will be attending Berkeley for graduate school in the fall.

Mackin said the excitement over receiving the NSF fellowship hasn’t hit him yet, but that it most likely will when he gets to Berkeley. Mackin received additional awards as well.

“[The fellowship] gives you three years of very good funding for grad school, a pretty good stipend and I think it pays for $12,500 towards tuition, so money-wise it’s a huge deal,” Mackin said. “I think the prestige of the award in the graduate school community is the most well known fellowship — the title brings a really big honor.”

Mackin said that the two research advisers and professors he worked with, Roman Lysecky, an electrical and computer engineering professor, and Jonathan Sprinkle, an electrical and computer engineering assistant professor, helped him get through the application process by writing letters and reviewing his applications.

Rodas said Andrea Romero, a family studies and human development professor, helped encourage him to apply.

Both students said they want to remain in academia and become professors in their fields.

“I think it’s a pretty big deal for my graduate career,” Mackin said. “It’s a really big honor to have the award, to be an NSF fellow.”

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