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June 2021


Dear Graduate Students,

This edition of GradFELLOWSHIPS focuses on the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP). The GRF is an exceptional opportunity for early-career graduate students, providing three years of support to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and nationals pursuing master’s degrees and PhDs in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields as well as STEM education. 

While the GRF is well known in many disciplines, it is worth highlighting that NSF welcomes applications from students in anthropology, communications, economics, geography, linguistics, psychology, political science, sociology, and other social science fields. 

I invite you to read more about Illinois' Graduate Research Fellows below and join me in congratulating this year's cohort of awardees. Students interested in applying this fall should take note of our inaugural NSF-GRF Summer Writing Lab (see details below).  

Application deadlines vary by discipline but typically fall in mid- to late-October. See the listing in Fellowship Finder for more information. If you have any questions, please contact us at ExtFellowships@illinois.edu

Ken Vickery, PhD
Director of Fellowships


Congratulations to the 2021 NSF Graduate Research Fellows!


Twenty-one graduate students, five undergraduates, and one alumnus from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been offered Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. An additional twenty-three students have been accorded Honorable Mention. This year's GRF cohort is exceptional in that they either concluded their undergraduate educations or started their graduate educations under extremely challenging circumstances given the pandemic. Congratulations to all of them for this extraordinary achievement! See the full list of awardees and honorable mentions


Featured Fellow: Destiny Williams-Dobosz

A Black woman wearing a pink shirt with black polka dots and smiling 
Destiny Williams-Dobosz, NSF Graduate Research Fellow 

“Why is science so hard for students?” This question has intrigued Destiny Williams-Dobosz, a Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology, since she served as an undergraduate tutor for students in introductory chemistry.

The class was known as a “weed-out course” for students pursuing pre-med and natural science majors. But the prevailing wisdom that “chemistry is a hard subject and either you’re good at it or you’re bad at it” didn’t account for what Destiny was observing as a tutor and experiencing herself as a chemistry major. “A lot of students that had potential and came in with these deep interests and values—they were leaving STEM,” she explains. As this was at Mount Holyoke, a women’s college, gendered classroom dynamics were not part of the equation. Destiny persisted, earning a bachelor’s in chemistry, but saw many of her peers of color switch majors. 

The vexed questions around the retention of underrepresented students in STEM followed Destiny to graduate school. As she begins her third year at Illinois, she will be a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, one of only 12 students nationwide to win the award this year in the subfield of STEM Education and Learning Research—Science Education. Continue reading...


NSF-GRF Summer Writing Lab


This summer the Graduate College Office of External Fellowships will host a six-week writing lab to support graduate students in preparing competitive applications for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Participants will benefit from research proposal and personal statement workshops tailored to the NSF-GRFP, focused writing exercises, and structured peer review. 

Incoming first-year and rising second-year graduate students as well as undergraduate seniors in all eligible STEM fields are welcome to join. Virtual lab meetings will be held weekly from 10 AM – 12 PM on Thursdays from June 24 – July 29. Interested students should confirm that they meet the general eligibility criteria and can commit to attending Thursday meetings. 

Please register by Thursday, June 17 to kick-start your summer proposal writing!


One-on-One Proposal Advising


Applicants to the NSF-GRFP are strongly encouraged to submit their statements to the Office of External Fellowships at least one month ahead of the NSF deadline in order to benefit from a thorough review by our staff.

Individualized advising is a standing service of the Office of External Fellowships that we urge all students seeking external fellowships and grants to take advantage of. We envision our services as a three-way partnership between you, your advisor and us. Indeed, our protocol requires that your advisor review your materials first and that you make all the revisions your advisor recommends. Once that is complete and you are ready for an external reader to review the drafts, we can serve in that capacity. For additional details, visit our Proposal Advising webpage.


Select Fellowships with Upcoming Deadlines


NSF-GRFP applicants are often excellent candidates for an array of other fellowships. Below is a sampling; for a complete list, visit the Fellowship Finder database.

Facebook - Doctoral Fellowship Program. Two-year fellowship for students in computer science and related fields (including computational social science). Applications due September 20, 2021. 

Hertz Foundation - Graduate Fellowships. Highly prestigious five-year fellowship for doctoral students at select schools in their first year of study in applied physical, biological and engineering sciences. Application deadline anticipated October 2021. 

Department of Defense (DoD) - National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. Three-year fellowship for doctoral students pursuing degrees in one of 16 supported science and engineering disciplines of military importance. Application deadline anticipated November 2021. 

Graduate Fellowships for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Diversity (GFSD). Six-year fellowships for graduate students in the physical sciences or related engineering fields. Application deadline anticipated December 2021.  

Link Foundation - Doctoral Fellowships for Research on Energy. Two-year fellowship for doctoral research in the energy field. Application deadline anticipated December 2021.  

American Meteorological Society (AMS) - Graduate Fellowship. Nine-month fellowship for first-year graduate students in the atmospheric or related oceanic and hydrologic sciences. Application deadline anticipated January 2022. 

U.S. Department of Energy / Krell Institute - Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Four-year fellowship for students pursuing a PhD in scientific or engineering disciplines with an emphasis on high-performance computing. Application deadline anticipated January 2022. 

National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) - Future Investigators in NASA Earth, Space Science, and Technology (FINESST). Three-year fellowship for students pursuing graduate degrees in in Earth- and space sciences-related disciplines. Application deadline anticipated February 2022. 

ACM SIGHPC / Intel - Graduate Fellowship for Women and Minorities in Computational & Data Science. Five-year fellowship for women and underrepresented students using computational and data science in a range of fields. Application deadline anticipated April 2022. 

American Psychological Association (APA) - Graduate Scholarships, Fellowships, & Grants. The APA Foundation supports graduate research in psychology through a number of fellowships and grants. Application deadlines vary. 



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