Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Students, Alums Named NSF Fellows

The National Science Foundation awarded two current Georgetown students and two alumni 2013 graduate fellowships to pursue research in the sciences.

Fellows receive a $12,000 education allowance and a $30,000 stipend every year for three years, during which recipients can study at any research institution in the United States.

Fellowship applicants must submit a research proposal, summary of past research, personal essay and three letters of recommendation.

“The National Science Foundation is very concerned with advancing science but also with teaching and educating underrepresented minorities,” fellowship recipient Scott Miles, a first-year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown, said.

Miles plans to research the relationship between music and language learning in the human brain. He is currently conducting a study on underprivileged youth studying music at Washington, D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

“The idea is to study how brain structures change over time as you learn music and how that relates to how brain structures change as you learn a language,” he said.

Miles based his research on a study by Georgetown professor Michael Ullman, director of the Brain and Language Lab. Ullman’s research examined brain activity when people listened to music and language.

Miles said the award allows fellows the flexibility to choose their own course of study.

“It gives you a lot of freedom, and I appreciate that,” he said. “When I came into Georgetown I wasn’t sure if there was a path to do what I wanted to do.”

Vivienne Foroughirad (COL ’10), a research associate in the biology department, will use the fellowship to pursue a doctorate at Duke University.

“I’m planning to work on a couple of different projects, but they’re all centered on the evolution of social structure in cetaceans,” Foroughirad said.

She will primarily study the social culture of bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, off the coast of Western Australia, and focus on sponging and feeding behaviors. Her fellowship research will build on the work she’s already done that looked at how dolphin behavior was affected by tourism.

Foroughirad noted that the fellowship is competitive and said she is grateful that it gives her more options to choose a graduate school.

Derek Dangerfield (COL ’12), another award recipient, is currently conducting HIV research in Malaysia with a Fulbright fellowship.

“I am exploring sexual risk taking, particularly among men that have sex with men,” Dangerfield wrote in an email.

He will pursue his doctorate degree at the University of Southern California with the NSF fellowship.

“I intend to explore competing hypotheses examining the relative roles of perceived community-level disorder and violence versus the availability of antiretroviral treatment on the sexual risk-taking behavior among African-Americans,” Dangerfield wrote.

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