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NSF awards fellowships

By David P. Hamilton

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded graduate fellowships to 21 MIT undergraduates on April 12. MIT was also the most popular choice of graduate schools among fellowship recipients.

The MIT students are among 540 scholars to receive national fellowships this year, according to Terrence Porter, director of the Division of Research and Career Development at NSF. Over 4400 college seniors and first-year graduate students applied for the fellowships.

"NSF graduate fellowships are awarded to those eligible students who show potential for major contributions in science and engineering work," Porter said. The award decisions are based on academic records, grade point averages, recommendations, and graduate examination scores, he continued.

The fellowship consists of a stipend of $11,100 a year, or $925 a month, according to a statement released by NSF. The graduate school which the NSF Fellow attends receives $6000 yearly from NSF as a cost-of-education allowance in lieu of tuition fees charged to the fellowship recipient.

NSF provides the awards for three years of graduate study, but they may be used over any five-year period in order to allow the recipients to teach or pursue research while they are not receiving their fellowship stipends, according to the press release.

"The fellowship award is good at any graduate school," Porter said.

MIT is the graduate school most commonly selected by NSF fellows, Porter continued. This year, 76 Fellows have declared they will attend an MIT graduate school, making MIT the most popular choice.

Stanford University and Berkeley were runners-up in this category, with 71 and 57 Fellows respectively.

There are currently 200 Fellows at MIT, out of approximately 1600 nationally, Porter said.

The NSF graduate fellowship program has been in existence for 34 years and has awarded over 23,000 fellowships. The ranks of NSF Fellows have included nine Nobel laureates and five winners of the Field Medal in mathematics.

This year's Fellows come from 48 states and the District of Columbia. 178 of this year's award recipients are women. The awards were distributed among scientific disciplines as follows: 20 in mathematics, 15 in applied mathematics, 30 in computer science, 45 in physics and astronomy, 41 in chemistry, 29 in earth science, 163 in biological sciences, and 100 in the social sciences and psychology.

Ondria Jaffe '85, an MIT undergraduate who has decided to attend MIT graduate school on her fellowship, described her fellowship as a "real bonus."

"Now I don't have to take an RA or TA position or even an outside job," she said. "[The fellowship] will allow me to concentrate on my research, which is the whole point of the award."