Georgia College student receives National Science Foundation award
Senior Anne Zimmerman has always been interested in plants. After three years of research on how plants respond to their environment, she has been recognized among the top science students in the country, landing the prestigious honor of being a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
“I am thrilled to receive this fellowship with NSF,” said Zimmerman. “I had no idea my proposal was accepted until I got an email of congratulations from my future graduate school. Then I checked the list online and saw my name was included. Apparently my email from NSF had gone to my spam folder, so to say I was excited and thrilled for this opportunity is an understatement.”
The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. This year more than 14,000 students applied for the program and Zimmerman’s proposal was one of only 2,000 selected for participation.
“For the sciences, this is the top award at this stage in her career,” said Dr. Caralyn Zehnder, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences. “The majority of students who receive this award are graduate students in their first year of study, so for Anne to receive this as an undergraduate is an amazing accomplishment.”
Starting during her sophomore year, Zimmerman began working with Zehnder on a research project focusing on how the kudzu bug affects the chemistry of the soybean plant.
“One of the main advantages of going to a smaller university like Georgia College is the hands-on research experience you can receive,” said Zimmerman. “I’ve had great opportunities to work in our labs side-by-side with our faculty members. That personal relationship with faculty members and the opportunity to look to them for guidance and reference makes a difference.”
While at Georgia College, Zimmerman has also been actively involved in the Honors Program since her freshman year, serving on the executive board and as a student assistant.
“When Anne burst into my office with this great news, I was proud for her to receive this national recognition,” said Dr. Steven Elliott-Gower, director of the Honors Program. “Anne is smart and hardworking. We hope that other students follow her lead and apply for these fellowships and scholarships, as they are both rewarding to the students and help recognized the high caliber education offered by Georgia College.”
The GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($32,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that is in a field within NSF's mission and leads to a research-based master's or doctoral degree.
Zimmerman is the first reported undergraduate at Georgia College in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences to receive the NFS Graduate Research Fellowship.
She will begin her graduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. this fall.
“This process was such a great learning experience,” said Zimmerman. “I learned through conducting my research and also through the application process for GRFP. I love research and hope to continue in this area for my future career.”