NSF Fellowships Awarded to Mizzou Students, Alumni

Marcos Barcellona
Marcos Barcellona

Senior Marcos Barcellona has been conducting research at Mizzou to study the development of a drug delivery system that is responsive to a range of external stimuli, which means the user could control the rate of release of the drug.

“This system could be implanted in the human body for extended release of a drug, and, due to the material’s chemistry, would not elicit immune system responses,” Barcellona says.

A bioengineering major, Barcellona will continue to research in this field beyond graduation from Mizzou after being awarded a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“I believe this is a phenomenal field with potential for growth and development, and with lots of potential to improve society through medical and technological advancements,” Barcellona says.

Barcellona was one of 14 current and former MU students to receive the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) this year. The prestigious fellowships recognize outstanding students in science, social science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursing research-based graduate degrees.

“I put a lot of time and effort into research as an undergraduate, so earning a fellowship to allow me to continue on this path as a graduate student was great encouragement,” Barcellona says.

Kevin Bird will also continue to conduct research after earning the fellowship from NSF. Bird is majoring in biology and philosophy and conducts research in both fields. He is working on a project that involves identifying which genes make plants more nutritious.

“The fellowship will allow me to pursue my own research projects at a graduate school of my choice and will free up resources for my future lab,” Bird says.

The same can be said for Samantha Huddleston. She is part of MU’s Exposure to Research for Science Students (EXPRESS) program, which is funded through the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity program, and plans to use the GRF to develop her skills as a researcher, mentor and entrepreneur, while attending graduate school to prepare her for a career in academia.

“Through working in the lab and my own research program, I have developed a strong, collaborative research community that will continually assist me throughout my professional career,” says Huddleston, whose research concerns a potential treatment for post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

Another NSF GRF recipient, Charles Meyer, is currently working to develop a device that can convert heat into electricity. Such a device could be used to capture wasted heat from power plants or manufacturing processes, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions.

“Having an award like the NSF gives me the opportunity to pursue research projects that are really interesting to me, without having to worry about funding for my tuition or the research itself,” says Meyer, who plans to pursue a doctorate at Stanford University.

Other MU students earning the award were seniors Emily Cheng, Wade Dismukes and Devin Petersohn, and graduate students Shawn Abrahams, Kiristin Budd, Faye McGechie and Toryn Schafer. MU alumni McKenzie Callaway, Nicholas Pretnar and Angelique Taylor were also selected for the NSF GRF. In addition, eight Mizzou undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni were named Honorable Mention selections.