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April 6th, 2010:

NSF Fellowships and the Importance of Loving Your Work

Late last night the National Science Foundation announced the graduate students who recieved the prestigious NSF-Fellowship. I was not among them, but I’m still pretty happy as my own average rating from reviewers climbed almost two points (consider Poors 1, Fairs 2, Goods 3, Very Goods 4, and Excellents 5). I certainly haven’t gotten any smarter or more diverse in the past year — which was why I didn’t have high expections for my application this year –, the main thing that changed was that I found (and was able to join) a lab where I could do science I was excited about, and I’m guessing that excitement came through in my research proposal and personal statement.

There’s a lesson here for anyone entering grad school in the near future or currently rotating through labs: being exciting about the research you’re doing is important. It can make the difference between grad school being the hardest most miserable years of your life, or some of the best.

It was certainly a successful year for my department (Plant and Microbial Biology), with four current graduate students and several new incoming students recieving the award! Congratulations to everyone who got great news last night (or woke up to the news this morning).

If you’d like to search the awardee and honorable mention lists, they can be found here.