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Students receive awards from National Science Foundation for graduate research

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Two Bobcats were chosen by The National Science Foundation as this year’s recipients of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The GRFP provides three years of financial support to graduate study, including $34,000 as an annual stipend and a $12,000 allowance for the cost of education. These funds are given to students who are working toward a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in the science, technology, engineering or mathematics fields.

The program is unique, as it has nurtured economic innovation and leadership in the U.S. continuously since 1952, according to Jim Lewis, NSF acting assistant director for education and human resources.

“These talented individuals have gone on to make important discoveries, win Nobel Prizes, train many generations of American scientists and engineers and create inventions that improve our lives,” Lewis said.

The Texas State recipients, Jared Coplin and Kristi Belcher, are among 2,000 awardees of the 13,000 that applied for the program. Coplin is a graduate student, currently seeking his master’s in the computer science department at Texas State.

“My research is geared towards reducing both the fiscal and environmental cost of computing without sacrificing performance, designing new highly efficient data processing algorithms and increasing the data return of space-based scientific instruments,” Coplin said.

Belcher recently graduated with a degree in computer science and will begin her graduate studies at the University of Oregon in the fall.

“In fall 2015 and spring 2016, I took an Undergraduate Research course,” Belcher said. “After I took the class, I discovered that I wanted to explore research in GPUs more in depth because they really excited me and I knew there was a lot more to learn in that area.”

NSF has funded more than 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships in the past 65 years. As of 2017, 42 members of the Fellowship have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the NSF Graduate Research Program website, “NSF Fellows are anticipated to become experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation’s technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.”

Martin Burtscher, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, acted as an advisor to both Coplin and Belcher.

“The Department of Computer Science and Texas State are very proud to be producing such strong researchers and future leaders, on par with students graduating from much higher ranked institutions,” Burtscher said. “Having our students honored in this way helps us attract top students, increases our visibility with potential employers of our alumni and reflects our commitment to student success and to becoming a Research one university.”

According to the Institutional Research breakdown of the university, over 12,000 of 38,808 students are enrolled in a STEM program.

A full list of STEM opportunities can be found on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ website.

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