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UM Students Receive Nation’s Top STEM Research Fellowship

Four recent UM students were awarded prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards.

MISSOULA – Four students who received an undergraduate degree from the University of Montana recently were awarded what is widely considered the nation’s most prestigious honor for graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math.

The National Science Foundation awarded a mix of UM undergraduate and graduate students with the highly competitive 2024 Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. As part of the award, each student is provided a five-year fellowship with NSF, including three years of financial support, an annual stipend of $37,000 and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the student’s current institution.

About 12,000 students apply for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship annually. Only about 2,000 receive the awards, which they take to a U.S. graduate institution of their choice.

“The significance of UM students receiving NSF Fellowships represents the level and rigor of STEM research that they can engage in at UM,” said Kylla Benes, UM director of External Scholarships & Fellowships. “Thanks to the support of the NSF, UM students play a vital role in advancing UM’s research and teaching missions and contribute to ground-breaking research with a real-world impact.”

The award winners and their majors are:

  • Fin Arohk Malone, life sciences, ecology from Naperville, Illinois.
  • Emily Hamant, life sciences, ecology from Englewood, Ohio.
  • Haleigh Brown, geosciences, astrobiology, from Okinawa, Japan.
  • Wesley Sarmento, life sciences, wildlife biology, from Golden, Colorado.

Additionally, four UM graduate students received honorable mentions:

  • Madeline Kira Jackson, life sciences, ecology.
  • Emily Cope, chemistry, environmental chemical systems.
  • Remi Murdoch, life sciences, genomics.

The number of NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award winners is a testament to UM’s robust research enterprise, said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for Research and Creative Scholarship.

“UM is classified as one of the top research universities in the world with our R-1 classification,” Whittenburg said. “The NSF fellow awards are a direct result of the remarkable research engine happening at UM, which in turn creates top-tier, graduate-level, research opportunities for our students.”

Whittenburg added that during the past decade, UM research expenditures have more than doubled – reaching an all-time high of $134 million last fiscal year.

NSF has selected more than 46,000 students to receive graduate research fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. Fellowship alumni include numerous Nobel Prize winners, Nobel Laureates and members of the National Academies.


By Jenny Lavey, UM News Service

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