Weger, Mallaro Awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Nathaniel Weger, majoring in mechanical engineering, and Sophia Mallaro, majoring in electrical engineering, have been awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Weger is both a research assistant and teaching assistant. In research, he investigated the use of trash to produce energy through the biomass gasification process and developed a temperature profile of poultry in order to design a mobile system to prevent avian influenza outbreaks. In November, Weger was awarded a Tau Beta Pi Campbell Scholarship.

Mallaro is a research assistant, working on a variety of virtual reality projects. She also is involved in building data extraction tools and analyzing data. Last summer, while participating in Viterbi's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, whe worked in the Interaction Lab for Dr. Maja Mataric and built a text to speech application for a robot using Amazon Polly.

Both are Grand Challenges Scholars at the UI.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.

Fellows share in the prestige and opportunities that become available when they are selected. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

Nathaniel Weger (left) and Sophia Mallaro