Six RPI Students Receive Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Program supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to be high-achieving scientists and engineers

April 26, 2024

Research being conducted in the lab

Six RPI students have been awarded fellowships from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).

Following are the students and their fields of study: Rukmani Cahill, biomedical engineering; Brian Delaney, mechanical engineering; Fin Donachie, materials engineering; Andrea Mitchell, macromolecular, supramolecular, and nano chemistry; Scott Schwartz, particle physics; and Nathan Wassermann, mechanical engineering.

Cahill, who works with RPI’s Elizabeth Blaber, Ph.D., and with NASA in the Bone and Signaling Lab, studies various countermeasures to osteoporosis and space-related bone loss. After graduating, she will enter the M.S. to Ph.D. program in the Bioengineering Department of the University of California at San Diego. 

Donachie plans to do research on advancing the Thermal Laser Epitaxy (TLE) system at Caltech. It  is the only TLE system in the USA and still a work in progress, he says. “This novel method will allow us to synthesize materials that exhibit quantum phenomena using high-melting-temperature refractory metals, a technique only paralleled by a similar system in Germany.”

Delaney attends Northwestern University; Mitchell is studying chemistry at RPI; Schwartz attends California Institute of Technology; and Wasserman attends Carnegie-Mellon University.

“The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is highly competitive and supports outstanding graduate students who stand to make significant contributions in their fields,” said Dorit Nevo, Ph.D., vice provost and dean of graduate education. “Having RPI students receive this award is a testament to the quality and level of preparation of our undergraduate programs. We are very excited that some of the GRFP recipient have chosen to continue their education at RPI, and we look forward to seeing what they will accomplish.”

The purpose of the GRFP is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. A goal of the program is to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM. The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual stipend of $37,000.

GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to be high-achieving scientists and engineers, early in their careers. Applicants must be pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education at accredited U.S. institution.

Students interested in applying to the NSF, GRFP, or other fellowship programs are encouraged to contact Betty Madigan, fellowship adviser, at

Written By Tracey Leibach
Back to top