13 April 2009

Just a little celebrating

Posted by Jessica Ball

I usually try to be modest, but I’m just so excited by this that I felt like posting:

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees

(Sorry for the repeat, folks who follow on Twitter – it’s only this once, I promise!)

Not only am I the only applicant from UB that received an award, I beat out all the engineering, medical and life science applicants – and at UB, we have a lot of those.

It’s actually a big relief, too – I don’t have to worry about how to pay for my next trip to Guatemala for field work, or having to borrow money for tuition, or (and this is the big one) moving to a cheaper apartment next year. Woohoo!

Here are the numbers:

This year, 30 out of 950 award recipients were for “Geoscience” (~3.2%)

For the past few years, the breakdown of applications looks like this:

Representation of Submitted Applications by Gross Field

2007 2006
Total Number of Applicants 8582 8339 8162

% % %
Chemistry 6.6 6.4 6.7
Computer and Information Science and Engineering 5.3 5.4 6.4
Engineering 27.5 26.2 25.2
Geosciences 3.1 3.3 3.8
Life Sciences 29.1 30.0 28.3
Mathematical Sciences 2.9 3.2 3.0
Physics and Astronomy 5.3 5.5 6.0
Psychology 8.4 7.5 7.6
Social Sciences 11.9 12.5 13.0

So, for 2009, the geoscience winners represent ~3.2% of the total awardees – on a par with the application rate for the past few years, but boy, does that seem low to me! NSF’s restrictions on applying – having no more than 1 year of graduate experience, no matter what degree you’re starting – do make it a bit difficult. I think it’s definitely unfair that PhD candidates can’t apply unless they’ve come straight from undergrad or work (although a PhD who has an MS already would have a bit of an advantage in writing and experience over one who doesn’t).

Still, I think we need to up the representation for the geosciences – and I know there are capable students out there! It’s a pain getting the thing written in time for the deadline, but boy, is it worth it.