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Chemistry Students Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

26 April 2019

Three Penn State chemistry students have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships! Katherine Marak, Megan Steves, and Sylvia Bintrim are recipients of the fellowship. Two additional students, Catherine Douds and Albanie Hendrickson-Stives, received honorable mentions from the NSF.  

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. In addition to support for their research, awardees benefit from a three-year annual stipend, along with a cost of education allowance for tuition, and opportunities for international research and professional development.

Katherine Marak is a graduate student in the Freedman group. She is currently researching how the physical and chemical properties of aerosols influence their ice nucleation activity. Her research has significant applications in the study of Earth’s climate and weather. “Receiving an NSF GRF is really an honor,” she adds, “it will allow me more time to focus on my research as well as providing more research opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to me.”

Katie Marak

Katherine Marak

Megan Steves is a second year graduate student in the Knappenberger group. Her research focuses on understanding electron dynamics in a new class of materials: plasmonic 2D metals. In the future, she hopes to investigate the possibility of efficient energy transfer between 2D metals and other materials. “Being selected to receive an NSF graduate research fellowship is  encouraging,” she notes, “it will be very helpful as I pursue my dissertation research.”


Megan Steves

Sylvia Bintrim is a graduating undergraduate student, double majoring in chemistry and mathematics. During her time at Penn State, she conducted research with Professor Gerald Knizia in theoretical chemistry and with Professor Bratoljub Milosavljevic in experimental physical chemistry. After graduating, she plans to pursue a PhD in chemical physics at Columbia University. Bintrim was also recently named Eberly College of Science student marshal for the spring commencement ceremony.


Sylvia Bintrim

Catherine Douds is a graduate student in the Bevilacqua lab. Her project focuses on combining experimental and computational approaches to improve the accuracy of RNA structure prediction genome-wide. She hopes that her work will improve structure prediction accuracy of biological RNA. Douds is excited about the interdisciplinary implications of this work; “I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me,” she adds.


Catherine Douds


Albanie Hendrickson-Stives is a second year graduate student in the Keating group. Currently, she is conducting research on controlling the assembly behavior of particle suspensions for tunable optical properties. She is focused on using dielectric particles and solvents that have a high refractive index contrast, which will allow for stronger optical modulations.


Albanie Hendrickson-Stives

Please join the Department of Chemistry in congratulating these students on this exciting achievement!


Communications Coordinator