Graduate student wins NSF fellowship; 2 honorable mentions in Geography

Friday, October 5, 2012 - 9:17am

Shouts of joy resonated in the normally quiet third floor of Walker Building on Friday, March 30, when geography graduate student Russell Hedberg learned by e-mail that he won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. 


 See related Newswire story: Penn State host to 23 new NSF graduate researchers


“I was completely surprised by the news. This fellowship will afford me the opportunity to further immerse myself in my studies, and develop my own research and writing.  It will also provide me with additional financial resources that will facilitate international travel for my research,” Hedberg explained.


The three-year fellowship is offered to early career graduate students to support and improve their training and future contributions to the sciences in the United States.  The award is not tied to a specific research project. This year, 12,000 graduate students applied. NSF awarded 2000 fellowships, 12 of which were awarded to students in the field of geography. Honorable Mentions were given to 1,835 applicants.


Initiated in 1952, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a highly competitive, federal fellowship program.  The program goals are to select, recognize, and financially support individuals early in their careers with the demonstrated potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers, and to broaden participation in science and engineering of underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. GRFP is a critical program in NSF's overall strategy in developing the globally-engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation.  A high priority for NSF and GRFP is increasing the diversity of the science and engineering workforce, including geographic distribution and the participation of women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.


Learn more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship


“The fellowship competition was also a great way to get early feedback from the NSF on my research focus and to get in the habit of writing proposals,” Hedberg noted,  “It's also a real honor to receive an NSF Graduate Fellowship and an excellent stepping stone as I lay the foundation for my career.”


Hedberg’s research focuses on the relationship between socio-ecological values and aesthetics, development, and landscape ecology/ land change in the High Andean region of Bolivia. He travels to Cochabamba, Bolivia this summer to conduct fieldwork for his master's thesis.


Geography students Eleanor Andrews and Arielle Hesse received Honorable Mentions in the 2012 NSF GRFP.


“Although there is no monetary award with an honorable mention, our names are posted on the NSF website and it provides a very welcome boost to my own confidence, at least, in my ideas and my dissertation project; it’s a kind of reassurance that I'm going in the right direction,” Hesse remarked.