Three Baylor Students Win National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

April 13, 2011

Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

Three Baylor students - Greg Bond, George Montanez and Eduardo Torrealba - have been accepted into the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which supports graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Baylor students will get 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.

Bond, a senior mechanical engineering major from Greenville, Texas, will conduct his research at Rice University with formal coursework to begin in the fall. He will pursue a doctorate in either materials science and engineering or chemistry. In either field, his research will involve the interplay between nanotechnology and energy.

Bond said he chose to attend Baylor for its scholarship support, engineering program and Christian commitment. He also was impressed by the department's commitment to international service and Christian missions.

"Though Baylor's engineering department is relatively young, it provides a very high quality education," Bond said. "In fact, the department's age plays to its advantage, as it is still small enough to enable true and consistent interaction with faculty members. Several engineering faculty members have led summer mission trips to various locations around the world. The department even has a student organization dedicated to encouraging students to use their engineering skills to share Christ's love with the world. The idea of seeing my engineering education serving the 'lowest of these' was not something I'd considered much before visiting Baylor."

Montanez, currently pursuing a master's degree in computer science at Baylor, obtained his bachelor's degree in computer science at the University of California at Riverside and will begin a doctorate program in machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University with the NSF fellowship. Baylor was his first choice for a master's program in computer science due to its research faculty and financial aid.

"Baylor's computer science faculty has been integral in helping to shape me as a young researcher," Montanez said. "The professors provide rigorous instruction while giving their time to mentor the students and encourage their research activities. I don't know if I'd be the same computer scientist without Baylor and its combination of challenging academics and individualized faculty guidance."

Montanez said his plan is to pursue research in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence, with the goal of becoming a research professor in the same field. He said the support of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship should provide some freedom in exploring a research topic of his choice at Carnegie Mellon.

Torrealba, a senior mechanical engineering major from Arlington, Texas, will pursue his doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois. While he isn't sure of his exact research, Torrealba said it will be related to nano- and micro- electrical mechanical systems and materials. He said he became interested in the Baylor's mechanical engineering program due to the quality of the network of scientists and engineers he would have access to while at Baylor. He said he also has considered a career as a professor in the future.

"If I were to teach anywhere I would want it to be at a university like Baylor where I could emphasize my passion for faith and academics at the same time," Torrealba said. "I think that engineering is the way I can best use my God-given talents and skills to help others."

Dr. Benjamin Kelley, dean of Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science, said the school has always attracted its share of very bright students who go on to graduate school after graduation. With the increase of ECS graduate programs, the faculty is even more attuned to graduate fellowship opportunities.

"What ECS wants to work towards now is for more of the winners of these fellowships, whether at Baylor or other universities, to consider continuing their studies at Baylor just as much as they do the likes of Carnegie-Mellon, Rice and UIUC," Kelley said.

About NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Originally created in March 1951, the program is the country's oldest graduate fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Since 1952, NSF has funded more than 46,500 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. More than 30 of them have gone to become Nobel laureates, and more than 440 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more information, visit www.nsfgrfp.org.

by Susie Typher, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Looking for more news from Baylor University?