National Science Foundation aims to fund future leaders of STEM

Anthony Muscat, dean of engineering, speaks at NSF-GRFP application preparation event. The event was hosted by the graduate school on Sep 8.

First-year STEM graduate majors could receive an annual stipend of $34,000 with the help of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP). 

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency with the mission to promote the progress of science, advance national health, prosperity, and welfare and secure national defense. 

“It wants to fund the future leaders of STEM,” Coleen Pugh, dean of the Graduate school, said.

Anthony Muscat, dean of the Engineering school,  has reviewed NSF-GRFP applications before and was a mentor for former recipients of the award. At a meeting regarding the program Thursday evening, he emphasized using personal stories over achievements when applying. 

“Think of it as a puzzle. There are all these pieces, and you’re bringing them together to tell a coherent story,” Muscat said. 

The fellowship program follows a strict deadline system. In July and August, potential applicants must read the solicitations. In late October, applications and reference letters are due. 

After all applications are received, a panel of reviewers will evaluate each application, using a scale of 1-50. Scores 50-40 indicate high recommendation for the fellowship whereas scores lower than 30 will not receive a recommendation. 

“Don’t be humble, sell yourself,” Brittany Wojciechowski, former recipient, said. 

Recipients of the reward are announced in early April. Application requirements and details can be found on the foundation’s website