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REU Trajectory: Awards to Continue Research Degrees

PARADIM Highlight #90—Education (2024)

James Overhiser (Cornell University)

PARADIM continues to track the success of our REU alumni. Many of our former participants are the recipients of prestigious scholarships that help them to continue their work in STEM fields and in their pursuit of higher degrees.

These recipients (year indicates experience at PARADIM) represent 15% of all PARADIM REUs through 2023, since the inception of the Platform in 2016. Among the 15 awardees, 6 are women (40%), 4 are URM (27%), and 6 pursued their undergraduate degrees at non-R1 institutions (40%).


Figure 1: The faces of 17 former PARADIM REU who received prestigeous grants to continue their careers.


NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

Most recently, Kira Martin ‘23, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. A goal of the program is to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

PARADIM REU Participants recognized by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program:

PARADIM REU Class of 2016

  • (Honorable mention) Arthur McCray

PARADIM REU Class of 2017

  • Heather Calcaterra

PARADIM REU Class of 2018

  • Stephanie Eberly
  • Cesar Lema

PARADIM REU Class of 2019

  • Priscila Santiesteban Navarro

PARADIM REU Class of 2020

  • Jessica Dong
  • Zubia Hasan
  • Patrick Singleton
  • Xin 'Jason' Zhang

PARADIM REU Class of 2021

  • Veronica Show
  • Luc Capaldi

PARADIM REU Class of 2023

  • Kira Martin

Barry Goldwater Scholarship  

Ethan Ray, Georgia Institute of Technology and Luke Omodt, Augsburg University. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the Nation needs in these critical fields. Over its 30-year history, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to thousands of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to win other prestigious awards like the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship, Churchill Scholarship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship that support our Scholars’ graduate schoolwork. Today, Goldwater alumni can be found conducting research that is helping defend the Nation, finding cures for catastrophic diseases and teaching future generations of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Rackham Merit Fellow Scholarship

Priscila Santiesteban Navarro, Michigan University. The Rackham Merit Fellowship (RMF) Program helps sustain the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the Michigan graduate community, one that embraces students with diverse experiences and goals, and who come from many educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. By offering this named prestigious fellowship to students, we aim to promote the values of diversity and inclusion by encouraging the admission of students who represent a broad array of life experiences and perspectives, because this enhances the quality of the intellectual environment for all students.

The Rackham Merit Fellowship is a highly competitive named fellowship awarded to students who have outstanding academic qualifications, show exceptional potential for scholarly success in their graduate program, and demonstrate promise for contributing to wider academic, professional, or civic communities.

GEM Fellowship

Anthony Coleman, Georgia Tech. GEM offers MS and Ph.D. level students an outstanding opportunity and access to dozens of the top Engineering and Science firms and Universities in the nation. The GEM Fellowship was designed to focus on promoting opportunities for individuals to enter industry at the graduate level in areas such as research and development, product development, and other high level technical careers. GEM also offers exposure to a number of opportunities in academia.

SOROS Fellowship for New Americans

Zubia Hasan, Harvard University. The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is a $90,000 merit-based fellowship exclusively for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate school in the United States. The program draws more than 1,800 applications annually for just 30 fellowships. 

The rigorous selection process is focused on identifying the most promising New Americans who are poised to make significant contributions to the nation through their work. As a nonpartisan organization, the selection team looks for a commitment to the United States’ fundamental principles and ideals. The Fellows can study in any degree-granting program in any field at any university in the United States. Selection is based on merit – the specific selection criteria emphasize creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishment. Neither financial need nor distributive considerations are taken into account in the selection process. Each Fellows attends two weekend conferences of Fellows. The great majority continue to be involved with the program through regional dinners, service in the selection process for later classes, and through the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows Association.


PARADIM - the Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials is a Materials Innovation Platform (MIP) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) via corporate agreements DMR-1539918 and DMR-2039380.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) has been an integral part of PARADIM since its inception in 2016,

  1. From 2016 to 2021 supported as part the main awards from NSF
  2. Since 2022 with dedicated funding from NSF as the “REU-Site: Summer Research Program at PARADIM,” via grant number DMR-2150446.