Chemistry student awarded prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Fionna Samuels


Department of Chemistry doctoral student Fionna Samuels has been named a 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, a prestigious honor that recognizes outstanding students pursuing research-based graduate degrees.

This fellowship includes three years of financial support with a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance (paid to the institution). The national competition drew 12,000 applicants from the United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Of the applicants, only 17 percent were named NSF Graduate Research Fellows.

“Getting this award has been a whirlwind and an incredibly humbling experience,” Samuels said. “There were many people in the chemistry department who wrote letters on my behalf. I’m honored, and I look forward to focusing on research in the next three years.”

Samuels chose to attend graduate school at Colorado State University after tutoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a tutor, she learned how to make science easier to understand through chemistry analogies, an experience that led her to appreciate the importance of science communication.

A current graduate teaching assistant, Samuels’ research focuses on physical and analytical chemistry. The fellowship will help her financially as she studies where cryoprotectant molecules localize and move around in living plant cells using currently coherent anti-Stokes Raman microscopy. In simpler terms, Samuels is studying where various protecting molecules go in living cells as they are frozen, a process that is used in fields from sperm preservation to plant gene banking.

Colorado State University students honored

In total, 2,050 individuals were named 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellows, seven of which, including Samuels, are CSU students. Nearly 1,600 individuals received honorable mentions, 11 of which are from CSU, including chemistry students Daniel Corbin, Cassidy Jackson, Kelly Nieto and Christopher Rom.

NSF-GRFP Recipients from CSU:

  • Martha Bierut, Conservation Leadership (Warner College of Natural Resources)
  • Jacqueline Griswold, Biochemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Kirsten Mayer, Atmospheric Science (Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering)
  • Sarah Myers, Psychology (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Katherine Rocci, Ecology (Intra-University)
  • Fionna Samuels, Chemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Juli Scamardo, Geosciences (Warner College of Natural Resources)

NSF-GRFP Honorable Mentions from CSU:

  • Daniel Andreas Corbin, Chemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Karin Emanuelson, Watershed Science (Warner College of Natural Resources)
  • Cassidy Jackson, Chemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Marcel Jardeleza, Ecology (Intra-University)
  • Bridget McGivern, Soil and Crop Sciences (College of Agricultural Sciences)
  • Rebecca Much Windell, Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (Warner College of Natural Resources)
  • Kelly Nieto, Chemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Christopher Rom, Chemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Laura St. Clair, Microbiology (College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences)
  • Lindsay Winkenbach, Biochemistry (College of Natural Sciences)
  • Jakob Wolynski, Bioengineering (Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Applicants can be undergraduate seniors as well as first or second-year graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. All graduate students are limited to only one application to the GRFP.

Established in 1952, research fellows from the program receive exclusive opportunities including being part of the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide initiative and receiving federal internships provided through the Graduate Research Internship Program.

To learn more about the program and the application process, visit or contact Mary Swanson, associate director of the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising and the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry, at