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NSF Fellowships go to Neuroscience Graduate Students, Two Alumni

Derek Dangerfield in graduation regalia

Derek Dangerfield (C'12)

April 16, 2013 – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named two current students and two alumni of Georgetown as 2013 graduate fellows.

NSF fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 and a $12,000 education allowance, in addition to opportunities for international research, professional development and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. graduate school they choose. 

Two of the recipients – Erika Raven and Scott Miles – are first-year students in the Interdisciplinary Program for Neuroscience (IPN), a university-wide comprehensive Ph.D. program in neuroscience including cellular, molecular and systems approaches.


Exceptional Scholarship

“It is remarkable that as one of more than 300 neuroscience Ph.D. programs in the U.S., we received two of only 77 fellowships awarded in neuroscience this year,” says Karen Gale, a professor of pharmacology who is part of IPN.

“This achievement reflects not only the exceptional scholarship and research creativity of our students, but their deep commitment to benefit society through science education.”

The IPN has produced six National Science Foundation graduate fellows in the past six years.

An Honor

Vivienne Foroughirad

Vivienne Foroughirad (C’10)

Raven’s research focuses on how dietary iron, essential to healthy development, contributes to structural and functional changes in the brain during adolescence.  

“This is a huge honor and lends a lot of flexibility to future thesis work at Georgetown,” Raven says.  

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success – a fact not lost on Miles.

“It is indeed a great honor to be an NSF fellow,” says Miles, who is investigating the relationship between music and language expertise acquisition. “It means sharing a distinction with 40 Nobel Laureates, as well as continuing in a strong tradition of recognition by the NSF among Georgetown's IPN students.”


Alumni Winners

The other two NSF fellowship winners are Derek Dangerfield (C’12), now working on HIV research in Malaysia on a Fulbright scholarship and Vivienne Foroughirad (C’10), who works in Georgetown biology professor Janet Mann’s lab.

Mann has been studying the behavior and development of wild bottlenose dolphins in Australia’s Shark Bay for decades.

Dangerfield will use his fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in health behavior research at the University of Southern California in the fall.

“Being an NSF fellow means a commitment to producing good scientific work for the social sciences and having an opportunity to develop academically and professionally, exploring interests that have always been important to me,” Dangerfield said.

Foroughirad will enter Duke University to pursue a Ph.D. in marine science and conservation this fall.

Bill Nye Inspiration

“This fellowship is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “It will allow me to attend my top choice graduate school and provide me with the resources to continue to invest myself in research while pursuing my Ph.D.”

As a child, Foroughirad says she first remembers learning about the National Science Foundation as a sponsor for her favorite TV show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

“Now the National Science Foundation is sponsoring my graduate studies,” she said. “Incredible!”