A total of eight Hope College students or recent graduates have been recognized with either fellowships or honorable mention through the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) this year.
Senior Rebecca Johnson of Midland received a fellowship. Seniors Brandon Derstine of Midland; Jason Gombas of Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Max Huffman of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, received honorable mention.
Fellowships were also awarded to 2018 graduates Garrett Fogo and Philip Versluis. In addition, 2017 graduate Sarah Petersen and 2015 graduate Meghanne Tighe received honorable mention.
Hope students or graduates have received fellowships or honorable mention through the program every year for more than a quarter century. The NSF awarded 2,050 of the fellowships nationwide this year, and recognized another 1,581 applicants with honorable mention.
The awards are for graduate students pursuing a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. The fellowships provide support for up to three years, and pay the student a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution.
Johnson is a double-major, earning an ACS (American Chemical Society-approved) Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology. She will pursue a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences with an emphasis on chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has participated in collaborative research at Hope with Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, professor of chemistry. Her other activities have included serving as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry, volunteering in the diabetic education program at the Holland Free Health Clinic, participating in the college’s May Term to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador, and Hope’s chapter of the Mortar Board honor society. She is a 2015 graduate of Midland High School.
Derstine is majoring in chemistry and minoring German. He will pursue a doctorate in organic chemistry at Stanford University.
He has participated in collaborative research at Hope with Dr. Jason Gillmore, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Amanda Eckermann, assistant professor of chemistry, and he also participated in research while in Freiburg, Germany, through a DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. Hope named him a Beckman Scholar in 2017 in support of his participation in research, and he also received awards through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium. He is a 2015 graduate of Herbert Henry Dow High School.
Gombas is majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics. He will pursue a doctorate in nuclear physics at Michigan State University.
He has participated in collaborative research with Dr. Paul DeYoung, who is the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Physics. In 2017, he received honorable mention in the scholarship competition of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. His activities at Hope have also included the Phelps Scholars Program, a residential initiative in which freshmen explore topics related to diversity, and the college’s chapter of the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics honor society. He is a 2015 graduate of Carroll High School.
Huffman is majoring in geology and minoring in environmental science. He will pursue a doctorate in geology in the field of fluvial geomorphology at the University of Delaware.
He has participated in collaborative research with Dr. Edward Hansen, professor of geology and environmental science, and has presented at the Geologic Society of America and American Geophysical Union conferences. He is a member of the Phi Betta Kappa honor society, Mortar Board and ODK leadership honor society, and president of the college’s Geology Club. He is a 2015 graduate of Moon Area High School.
Fogo is in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Versluis is pursuing graduate study in the life sciences-biochemistry at Cornell University. Petersen is pursuing graduate study in the mathematical sciences, focusing on algebraic topology, at the University of Notre Dame. Tighe is pursuing graduate study in sustainable chemistry at the University of Notre Dame.