Three recent graduates win NSF fellowships

Three recent alumnae have been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship that will provide them with research stipends of up to $30,000 for three years.

Jessica Sadick ’11, Libby Maret ’12 and Sarah Lamer ’13 were selected from a field of more than 14,000 applicants; just 2,000 fellowship offers were made. All three alumnae will use the fellowship to continue their research work at their graduate institutions.

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the NSF fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Google founder Sergey Brin.

Sadick, who studied botany at the College and was a Winthrop Scholar, is a graduate student in the Biotechnology Ph.D. program at Brown University. Her current project involves developing a technology platform to identify live cell populations based on gene expression. Sadick said the fellowship allows her the flexibility to take more risks in her research, all while using foundational research skills she fostered at Connecticut College.

“My botany research at the College provided me with a solid technical background and helped develop my interest in asking questions and pursuing the answers,” said Sadick. She also singled out the mentorship of botany professor Page Owen as “indispensable” and a major factor in her love for science.

Maret will use her fellowship to continue to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics from the University of Michigan, where she is using spectroscopy techniques to examine the electronic structure and molecular mechanisms of biological processes, such as photosynthesis.

Maret also hopes to take advantage of grants provided by the fellowship program for international collaborative research, using connections in Japan that stem from a Fulbright fellowship in 2012. She majored in physics and Japanese at the College, and still leans on faculty in those departments for guidance.

“The support I continue to receive from the Japanese and physics departments is evidence of the strength of the student-faculty relationships formed at Connecticut College,” said Maret, singling out Ames Associate Professor of Physics Mohamed Diagne and Hisae Kobayashi, senior lecturer in Japanese.

Lamer is studying psychology at the University of Denver, where she is researching social perception and how the environment reinforces or mitigates social inequities. Lamer will use the fellowship to study power dynamics among sociocultural groups, and aims to conduct research that contributes to scientific knowledge and has clear social benefits.

“It means that people value my research and see the impact it can have on the broader population,” Lamar said of being awarded the fellowship.

Her interest in the study of social inequities, Lamer said, stems from her work with Class of ’43 Professor of Psychology Joan Chrisler and her experience as a member of Chrisler’s Feminist Psychology Research Group. She also credits her time in the Holleran Center’s Program in Community Action with helping her think critically about social and structural barriers to success and how to approach them in ways that are engaging and applicable.


May 5, 2014