Four UR Students Honored By NSF

Two Recent UR Grads Selected for Prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships; Two Students Receive Honorable Mentions
April 30, 2021

Photo of recipients

Pictured from left to right: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Recipients Sara Camilli and Lillian Hughes and honorable mentions Joann Chongsaritsinsuk and McKenzie Murvin.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Two recent University of Richmond graduates have received competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to support their graduate school pursuits.

The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support, including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

The recipients include:
Sara Camilli, a 2019 graduate from Freehold, New Jersey. Camilli double majored in biology and computer science at Richmond, where her research focused on studying freshwater sponges and the evolution of animal symbioses. As part of that research, Camilli externed at the Natural History Museum of London. She also studied abroad in the Netherlands during her time at UR. Camilli is now a second-year Ph.D. student in the quantitative and computational biology program at Princeton, where she is studying cancer genomics. Camilli aspires to lead her own research group and mentor and support students at all levels in the academic pipeline, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. 

“This NSF support will allow me to continue my research while also acknowledging the work I've done in the mentorship of underrepresented women in STEM and the promotion of scientific accessibility,” Camilli said. 

Lillian Hughes, class of 2019, from Harrisonburg, Virginia. Hughes majored in interdisciplinary physics with a chemistry concentration and minored in chemistry and music while at UR. She worked with chemistry professor Michael Leopold to develop biosensors and molecular detection devices using various nanomaterials, work which she received a Goldwater scholarship for. Hughes is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science at the University of California, Santa Barbara where her research involves engineering defects in diamond for quantum applications.

“This fellowship has provided confirmation that my research is meaningful and beneficial in serving a larger goal of scientific advancement,” Hughes said.

Joann Chongsaritsinsuk, a senior from Arlington, Virginia, and McKenzie Murvin, a 2019 graduate from Orlando, Florida, both received honorable mentions.

Chongsaritsinsuk is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in integrated science. She will begin graduate school in the fall at Yale where she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical biology.

Murvin majored in biochemistry and molecular biology and minored in integrated science and mathematics while at UR. She is now a second-year Ph.D. student at UNC Chapel Hill pursuing genetics and molecular biology.

Since 1955, more than 80 UR graduating seniors or recent graduates have been selected to receive either NSF graduate research fellowships or been named an honorable mention. The Office of Scholars and Fellowships assists graduating seniors and recent alums with their applications for this fellowship opportunity.

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