CSUMB tops CSU list of National Science Foundation fellowships

Marine Research

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program is targeted at students pursuing studies in STEM fields. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

April 12, 2024

Six Cal State Monterey Bay students and graduates have been awarded fellowships by the Graduate Research Fellowship Program of the National Science Foundation. 

Despite its small size, Cal State Monterey Bay outshined the other 22 CSU campuses. San Diego and San Francisco state universities both had five winners. 

CSUMB President Vanya Quiñones said the number of fellows reflects the university’s quality of education. 

"At Cal State Monterey Bay, we pride ourselves on providing immersive learning opportunities for our undergraduate students and preparing them to pursue higher education,” Quiñones said. This commitment and support is exemplified when we see our students selected for prestigious awards such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. With six students selected this year, more than any other CSU campus, we know we are preparing students for great futures." 

Natasha Oehlman, a writing and professional communication associate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center, said receiving the fellowship is a great accomplishment. 

“It is considered one of the most prestigious and competitive graduate fellowships in the United States,” Oehlman said. “The overall selection rate for the NSF GRFP is typically around 10% to 15%.  Receiving this award can have a transformative impact on a student's graduate education, research, and future career prospects in the STEM fields.”

The award comes with a $37,000 annual stipend for three years.

CSUMB’s recipients are:

  • Amalia Seigel - now a graduate student at University of Miami
  • Vanessa Garcia - now a graduate student at Penn State University
  • Zach Vaydar - heading to graduate school at University of Alaska Fairbanks next year
  • Eva Scrivner - heading to graduate school at University of Connecticut next year
  • Annabelle McCarthy - now a graduate student at Michigan State University
  • Ingrid Martinson - is planning to attend UC Santa Cruz for graduate studies next year

Jajaira L. Reynaga, now a graduate student at UCSC, was given an honorable mention. 

"This is such a competitive program and these students deserve recognition for their selection,” said Interim Provost Andrew Lawson. “I want to thank all the dedicated faculty who serve as mentors and support undergraduate research opportunities that allow our students to be successful at Cal State Monterey Bay and beyond." 

The NSF has funded over 70,000 graduate research fellowships since the awards were first given in 1952. The program is the oldest of its kind in the United States. 

Over the years, 42 fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. 

According to the NSF’s website, the purpose of the fellowship “is to help ensure the quality, vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States…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.”

The announcement of the winners comes on the heels of three CSUMB students being named Goldwater Scholars, another prestigious national scholarship award.