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Two Olin Seniors Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Two Olin College seniors have won prestigious 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowships for graduate school. Cassandra Overney ’21 and Amy Phung ’21 received awards and alum Tehya Stockman ’19 has been named an honorable mention.

Since 2006, Olin College has had a total of 59 NSF GRFP winners. 

“Olin is thrilled for Amy and Cassandra,” said Sally Phelps, Director of Post-Graduate Planning. “They have both been diligent and creative in finding ways to follow their passion as they continue their education and advance their careers. Both are very deserving of this distinguished fellowship!”

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. 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 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.

Olin student Cassandra Overnay '21 at EXPO

Cassandra Overney '21 speaks with the community during Fall EXPO 2018.

Cassandra will pursue a Ph.D. at the Center for Constructive Communication at the MIT Media Lab following her graduation from Olin in May. She is especially interested in the use of storytelling in community governance. “I am super grateful to receive the NSF fellowship, so I can have the flexibility to explore different areas of social network research and create tools that aid in computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW),” said Cassandra. “At the Media Lab, I look forward to building upon what I learned at Olin and design impactful technology that can bring different groups of people together.”

After Olin, Amy will join the joint program of MIT’s AeroAstro department and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Applied Ocean Science and Engineering (AOSE) to pursue a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. Amy’s research will include working with robotic arms onboard deep-sea exploration robots and compiling data about the elemental composition of the sea floor.

Olin student Amy Phung '21 at AstroStats Poster Presentation in 2019

Amy Phung '21 presents research during the Astro Stats Poster Presentations in 2019.

Honorable mention, Tehya, is currently studying Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is studying the aerosol dynamics of band practice at CU Boulder, and her research will inform coronavirus regulations for bands all around the country.

“Like so many Olin students, this year’s NSF awardees will surely make the world a better place through their work in grad school and beyond,” said Phelps.

Since 1952, NSF has funded over 60,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. Currently, 42 Fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a high rate of doctorate degree completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their doctorates within 11 years.