06:27 AM

Recent UHD Graduate Named to Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Adolfo Lara, a recent biology graduate, was born in Mexico and is now in the doctoral program at the American Museum of Natural History. Adolfo Lara, a recent biology graduate, was born in Mexico and is now in the doctoral program at the American Museum of Natural History.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) this week selected recent UHD graduate Adolfo Lara for its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

Lara, who began a coveted doctoral program in comparative biology last fall at The Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, joins an elite group of GRFP students slated to make substantial contributions to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering.

The GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind and has a long history of selecting students who reach high levels of success in their academic and professional careers. The NSF notes that, "the reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching… These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security, as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large."

Past GRFP fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.

In recommending Lara for the fellowship, Lisa Morano, chair of UHD's Department of Natural Sciences, wrote, "Due to his overall excellence, I believe Adolfo is a superb candidate for your fellowship. In my 12 and a half years at UHD, I have trained almost 40 undergraduate students and Adolfo is probably one of the top three most inherently skilled research students I have met."

As a GRFP fellow, Lara will receive a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 and a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), as well as opportunities for international research and professional development.

"When I first read the e-mail awarding me this prestigious fellowship, I was shocked; I even re-read the email a few times to make sure they had the correct e-mail address and that this wasn't an April fool's joke, it wasn't a joke," said Lara. "My advisors, colleagues and former professors all played a key role in this process and for that I am thankful. For now, I am excited to get this project rolling and looking forward to the results we will uncover!"

While at UHD, Lara was selected as a "Major Opportunity" student representative and was involved in Scholars Academy, an academically competitive program in the College of Sciences and Technology that promotes scholarship and student success for undergraduates majoring in STEM fields.

"I feel so lucky to have attended UHD," said Lara. "I had opportunities to do research as an undergraduate; I joined science clubs and built a network that extends past college. UHD showed me the professional possibilities available to me and helped me reach them."