SOM Graduate Students Selected as NSF Fellows

SOM Graduate Students Selected as NSF Fellows

Two School of Meteorology graduate students were selected as 2020 NSF Fellows: Matthew Bray and Morgan Schneider. Bray graduated in the School of Meteorology class of 2020 and plans to start his graduate degree in the fall, and Schneider is entering her second year of her Master’s degree program. She is an OU School of Meteorology graduate as well.

To be eligible for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program (NSF GRFP), you either have to be in the senior year of your undergraduate degree, or in the first or second year of graduate school. In addition, your degree program must be based in the STEM field. If you submit an application during the first year of graduate school, you become ineligible to try again during your second year.

Schneider’s inspiration for applying came from her experience with the program as an undergraduate.

“I actually applied for the fellowship during my senior year of my Bachelor’s degree as well,” she said. “I didn’t receive an offer, but I did get an Honorable Mention, which is a major reason why I applied again this past year.  I heard about it from a friend of mine who had also applied. Otherwise, I might never have heard about it or considered applying myself.”

Bray applied to the fellowship with the encouragement of School of Meteorology faculty member.

“I applied for the fellowship based on the recommendation of my advisor, Dr. Steven Cavallo, who also assisted me throughout the application process.”

Although the fellowship does not start until the fall, Bray and Schneider for the scientific freedom the program offers its participants.

“I’m hoping to broaden my skills as a researcher during the course of the fellowship,” Bray said. “The fellowship gives you a lot of freedom with what kind of research you want to pursue, so I look forward to exploring the atmosphere from many different perspectives. I’m hoping to pick up skills like modeling and data assimilation, while also improving on the coding skills that I learned as an undergrad at OU.”

“I am most excited about the scientific freedom that this fellowship will bring me,” Schneider said. “Having three years of my own funding means that I am no longer tied to a specific research grant through my advisor. Essentially, it will enable me to focus on answering the research questions that intrigue and excite me the most.”

After completing their post-graduate degree programs, both students’ career interests lie in research. They agree that this fellowship will open new doors and opportunities for them in the long run.

“I honestly don’t know at this point,” Schneider said. “I’ve thought about trying to be a professor since I enjoy teaching and mentoring, but I’m also considering a career as a research scientist because I know that tenure-track jobs are very difficult to come by. All I know is that I want to have a career in meteorological research, especially focusing on severe weather and observational data.”

“After graduate school – I plan to eventually get a Ph.D.,” Bray said. “I’m interested in a career in research, but I haven’t decided yet if that will be in an academic setting, or somewhere else like a NOAA lab.”

We are so proud of you two! Keep up the excellent work!