Five from LSU Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships


BATON ROUGE – The National Science Foundation, or NSF, recently announced the recipients of their 2013 Graduate Research Fellowships, and five of the fellows are LSU students or recent graduates.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships provide a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 along with a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

The following students and recent graduates received the prestigious award, an exceptional honor for the students, their faculty mentors and the university itself:

  • Anthony Correro, a native of Bossier City, La.: graduated in May 2013 with a degree in psychology from the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, along with Colleges Honors from the LSU Honors College.
  • Trent Key, a native of Baton Rouge: a Ph.D. student in civil engineering in the LSU College of Engineering, Huel Perkins Diversity Fellow and Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Program scholar.
  • Kameron Kilchrist, a native of Lafayette, La.: graduated in May 2013 with a degree in biological engineering from the LSU College of Engineering, along with Colleges Honors from the LSU Honors College and a LA-STEM Research Scholar.
  • Nicholas Speller, a native of Cartersville, Ga.: a Ph.D. student in chemistry in the LSU College of Science and a Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate Program scholar.
  • Devon Wade, a native of Houston, Texas: graduated from LSU in December 2010 with a double major in African & African-American studies and sociology with a concentration in criminology and a Ronald E. McNair Research Scholar.

Key, who will continue his graduate studies in civil and environmental engineering at LSU, credits the university with much of the experience he received as an undergraduate in preparation for future research and studies.

“I think LSU prepared me for graduate study through coursework foremost, but also through my previous research experiences,” he said.

With guidance from the College of Engineering Diversity Program, Key participated in an undergraduate summer internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Stennis Space Center. His other research opportunities included an undergraduate student research position in consultation with Professor William Moe at LSU.

Key also participated in the annual International Environmental Design Contest sponsored by “WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development,” as part of his capstone design course in environmental engineering. Key and his team received best design for a sustainable water purification system. Key plans to continue his research with Moe while he works toward a doctoral degree.

Kilchrist, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, was a member of LSU’s LA-STEM Research Scholars Program, a scholarship and mentoring program that enhances participants’ college experience and encourages academic success in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines.

“He is one of the brightest young scientists I have had in the lab,” said Assistant Professor Daniel Hayes, Kilchrist’s research mentor. “On top of his research and academic accomplishments, he is a leader in the LSU community and has been named one of the Tiger Twelve for his efforts.”

Having gone through the LSU Honors College, both Kilchrist and Correro took part in the four-year honors curriculum that includes community service, study abroad, undergraduate research, and a senior thesis project. In addition to the in-depth coursework required to graduate with honors, the Honors College provides opportunities for independent research through the undergraduate thesis program.

“The Honors College provided me with several broad experiences that enhanced my time at LSU aside from research and thesis work: the ability to study abroad and engaging and critical coursework,” Correro said. “These diverse experiences have directly prepared me for graduate study.”

Correro will pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Marquette University. He plans to continue research on cognitive decline, dementia and false memory while also teaching and mentoring students.

“Working with Anthony has been a most rewarding experience,” said LSU Psychology Professor Jason Hicks. “He has a very promising future as a clinical psychologist and scientist.”

Speller is a member of Boyd Professor Isiah Warner’s research group. The group conducts research in the field of analytical chemistry and aims to improve research methodology by developing and applying new chemical, instrumental and mathematical methods. Spellers’ tentative future plans are to attend medical school and obtain an MD in psychiatry.

“He came to LSU with dual degrees in chemistry and biology,” Warner said about Speller. “His dual majors are a huge advantage since he has had to employ both of these in his current research.”

Wade, a 2010 recipient of the Truman Scholarship and 2011 recipient of the Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship, is currently pursuing post-graduate studies at Columbia University. Under the direction of faculty mentors, including Associate Vice Chancellor of Research & Economic Development Matthew Lee, Wade researched the effects of parental incarceration on a child’s behavior and education while at LSU. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York in Urban Sociology.

Three of the recipients were participants in the third annual NSF Graduate Fellowship application workshop held at LSU last fall, hosted in collaboration by the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL, and Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC. The two-part series, which has produced 12 fellows in the past three years, was led by Marybeth Lima of CCELL, Sarah Liggett of CxC and Carol Friedland of LSU’s Department of Construction Management. The three faculty provided workshop attendees with proposal writing basics as well as application critiques.

NSF is one of the country’s top funding sources for scientific research at the university level. Founded in 1950, part of the independent federal agency’s mission has been to promote the progress of science and advance the health and prosperity of the United States. In support of this mission, the organization each year recognizes outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. NSF received more than 13,000 submitted applications for the 2013 competition, and made 2,000 award offers.

NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program, or GRFP, helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.

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About the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program
The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is funded by NSF and the Louisiana Board of Regents and managed by the Office of Strategic Initiatives at LSU.

LA-STEM admits students who show great potential to succeed in STEM areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and who have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders. The Office of Strategic Initiatives looks for students who are committed to promoting diversity in the sciences in their undergraduate and graduate careers. Students are required to maintain the highest of academic standards to remain in the program. They also exemplify a strong dedication to mentoring, enthusiasm for diverse cultural experiences and a passion for serving the community. For more information on LA-STEM at LSU, visit

About Huel D. Perkins Fellowships
Since its inception in 1995, the Huel D. Perkins Fellowships have been awarded to nearly 200 doctoral students at LSU. A professor of music, Perkins served in the senior leadership of LSU from 1979 to 1998, helping to profoundly shape LSU’'s drive to become a more diverse institution. Perkins passed away this spring and his family has asked that donations be made to the Perkins Fellowship Support Fund with the LSU Foundation.

Huel D. Perkins Fellowships, in the amount of $20,000 per student per year for four years, may be authorized at the discretion of the dean of the LSU Graduate School when funds are available. These fellowships are intended to support the LSU and national goals of increasing the numbers of historically under-represented groups in graduate schools, including, but not limited to first-generation college students from low-income families, African American/Black, Hispanic American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiians and other U.S. Pacific Islanders. Undergraduate students who participated in McNair Scholars Programs, NSF AGEP Programs, NIH BUILD Programs and similar federal programs to promote diversity should be considered for these fellowships, though such past participation is not a requirement.

About the Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation
The Louis Stokes Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation is a comprehensive, statewide, coordinated program aimed at substantially increasing the number and quality of minority students enrolling in and completing baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines and subsequently going on to pursue graduate studies in STEM disciplines.

About the Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars Program
McNair Research Scholars, operated in the LSU University College, is funded through the Department of Education TRIO Programs, which are grants made available to colleges and other nonprofits for the purpose of increasing postsecondary educational opportunities. LSU has three TRIO Programs – McNair, Upward Bound and Student Support Services – whose combined efforts bring more than $850,000 of annual federal funding for the purpose of supporting postsecondary education opportunities at LSU and in the Baton Rouge community.

Students in the program participate in activities such as faculty mentorship and research, regular one-on-one counseling with McNair Program staff and graduate school entrance exam preparation. Each student is expected to conduct their research, write about it and make a public presentation at a national conference regarding their research topic. In addition, the McNair Program provides a variety of resources, including funding for undergraduate research and access to laptop computers, iPads and digital cameras. For more information, visit

The LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership promotes learning, student leadership and community engagement through service-learning activities and community partnerships. For more information, visit

About CxC
As the first program of its kind in the nation, LSU Communication Across the Curriculum works with LSU faculty to train, mentor and recognize students who demonstrate exceptional skills in written, spoken, visual and technological communication. For more information, visit

Ernie  Ballard

LSU Media Relations