Two UGA Engineering graduates awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Emily Barber and Karen Mancera Azamar

Emily Barber and Karen Mancera Azamar

Two recent graduates of the University of Georgia College of Engineering have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships for their potential to make significant contributions toward scientific innovation and teaching.

The highly-competitive fellowship offers three years of financial support in the form of a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance, in addition to professional development and international research opportunities.

The two 2021 UGA Engineering graduates honored with fellowships are Emily Barber and Karen Mancera Azamar.

Barber graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering in May. She was a member of the research team in the Jambeck Research Group, exploring novel solutions for the challenges presented by solid waste. Barber will attend Purdue University beginning this fall where she will pursue a research master’s in mechanical engineering.

Emily Barber

Emily Barber will join Purdue University’s research master’s in mechanical engineering program.

“When I found out I was awarded the NSF Fellowship, I was at the Driftmier Engineering Center preparing for a class presentation. I immediately jumped up out of my seat and yelled – luckily I was in a room by myself, but I feel I would’ve done the same regardless,” said Barber.

Mancera earned her bachelor’s degree in biological engineering, graduating magna cum laude in May. She plans to join the doctoral program in biomedical engineering at the University of Florida this fall.

“I enjoyed my time at UGA, especially the welcoming community within the College of Engineering,” said Mancera. “My experience during undergraduate research has allowed me to prepare for my next step as a graduate Ph.D. student.”

As an undergraduate at UGA, Mancera was a member of the team in the Reimaging Advanced Manufacturing Lab (RAMLAB), which focuses on single-cell profiling to accelerate cellular therapies for immune diseases.

Karen Mancera Azamar

Karen Mancera Azamar will pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Florida.

Earning an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is a rigorous task. Applicants are required to complete compelling personal statements and research plans. The students also submit three letters of recommendation to a national panel of engineering and science faculty. Finally, a panel reviews the applicants for success in their careers and the students must demonstrate the ability to develop a strong research plan, succeed with their graduate study, and make a broad impact on society. Typically, only 15% of applicants are selected to receive the fellowships.

“We are incredibly proud of Emily and Karen and the exceptional record of success they’ve built during their time at UGA,” said Donald Leo, dean of the College of Engineering. “As promising young researchers and scholars, we’re certain they will make significant contributions to engineering and society.”

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

By Mike Wooten

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