James Maruola Waller ’16
Scott Tan ’16

Scott Tan ’16 is headed to MIT to study mechanical engineering.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded graduate research fellowships to three Pomona College students: Andreas Biekert ‘16 who is studying atomic, molecular and optical physics; Scott Howard Tan ‘16 who is studying materials engineering; and James Maruola Waller who is ‘16 studying psycholinguistics and language development.

James Maruola Waller ’16

James Maruola Waller ’16 is headed to the University of Chicago to study psychology.

Andreas Biekert '16

Andreas Biekert ’16 will pursue a Ph.D. in physics after Pomona College.

For Waller, a linguistics and cognitive science major, winning the award is beyond thrilling and he says, he still can’t believe the news.

“My research focuses on language development in deaf children. It means a lot to me that the NSF has recognized the importance of this research, and is willing to fund it. I want to thank my mentors Professor Patricia Smiley and Professor Deborah Burke for their wonderful support over the years. This is an incredible honor and I still can’t believe it happened,” says Waller, who will be heading to the University of Chicago to start a Ph.D. program in psychology.

Tan, a physics major, is also excited about the award which provides a total of $46,000 a year for tuition and stipend for three years of graduate studies and research. “The NSF award will enable me to pursue research that excites me without having to worry as much about funding. I plan to use the award to support my graduate studies in mechanical engineering at MIT.”

Biekert adds, "I'm excited to be able to focus on research from the start of my time at graduate school, where I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in physics involving low temperature experiments."

“We are proud of our students and recent graduates receiving NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awards this year. Their success is a testament to the transformative power that undergraduate research provides in a liberal arts education,” says Dean of the College and Professor of Economics Fernando Lozano.

“The commitment of Pomona’s faculty and staff to our Summer Undergraduate Research Program is the building stone for these experiences. Congratulations to our students and recent graduates!”

Twelve young alumni have also received Graduate Research Fellowship Awards:

  • Shannon Burns ‘15 studying social psychology at UCLA
  • Erin Rose Delaria ’15 studying environmental chemical systems at UC Berkeley
  • Micah Alan Johnson ’10 studying cognitive neuroscience at UCLA
  • Joe LaBriola ‘12 studying sociology at UC Berkeley
  • Benjamin Scott Murphy ’13 studying geophysics at Oregon State University
  • Jessica Schroeder ‘14 studying human computer interaction at the University of Washington
  • Miriam Eve Shiffman ’13 studying microbial biology
  • Jennifer Anne Somers ‘12 studying developmental psychology at Arizona State University
  • Michael Stewart ’13 studying economics
  • Leyla Yasemin Tarhan ‘13 studying cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University
  • Makeda Aislinn Tekle-Smith ‘14 studying chemical synthesis at Columbia University
  • Hannah Katherine Wayment-Steele ’15 studying chemical theory, models and computational methods at Cambridge University

This year, the NSF awarded 2,000 GRFP fellowships from 17,000 applicants.

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program is a part of the NSF’s efforts to foster and promote excellence in U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics by recognizing talent broadly from across the country.

"These awards are provided to individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements, and they are investments that will help propel this country's future innovations and economic growth,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF assistant director for education and human resources in a press release.

GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution). That support is for graduate study that leads to a research-based master's or doctoral degree in science or engineering. Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.

For a full list of winners, visit the NSF GRFP awards list.