STARKVILLE, Miss.--Two Mississippi State students are new selections for major national fellowships that provide three years of research funding.
Doctoral student Kevin A. Bennett of Ocean Springs and senior Shaquia L. Idlett of Newport News, Va., are among 2,000 chosen this year for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. They were among some 14,000 applying for the prestigious honors.
Each is receiving more than $30,000 annually to support their research efforts, with an additional $10,000 annually to cover the cost of tuition.
Both are biomedical engineering majors enrolled in the university's Bagley College of Engineering. The mentor for both is LaShan Simpson, assistant professor in the agricultural and biological engineering department and a Clemson University doctoral graduate.
Last year, Bennett received an MSU bachelor's degree, summa cum laude. He is a Madison Central High School graduate and the son of Neil and Suzanne Bennett.
With research focusing on the treatment of vascular calcification, he plans to use his experiences in the laboratory and as a teaching assistant to pursue a career in higher education.
As the first person in his family to attend graduate school, Bennett said he has a deep appreciation for the NSF award and opportunities it presents.
"Just being able to attend graduate school this year has been a great accomplishment," he said. "To receive this award is more than I could have ever imagined, and I'm going to work hard to make the most out of this opportunity."
Idlett, who is enrolled in MSU's Shackouls Honors College, will enter the biomedical engineering doctoral program at the Georgia Institute of Technology this fall following her May graduation.
This NSF award, combined with a National Institute of Health Computational Neuroscience Training Fellowship from Georgia Tech, has guaranteed funding for the duration of her studies that focus on neurological engineering.
She is a Denbigh High School graduate and the daughter of Pamela and the late Demitrius Idlett.
She said her mother, who has a neurological disorder, and father, who passed away from a heart attack, motivate her research efforts. She plans to use her work to honor them.
"This fellowship is a great achievement for me as a student and researcher, but it is also an honor for the wonderful parents who raised me and the exceptional university that trained me," she said.
NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program works to recognizes top graduate students pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. In addition to academic requirements, it also requires applicants to submit two original essays, including a complete research proposal.
For more information about the fellowship program, visit www.nsfgrfp.org.
Information about the Bagley College, including the agricultural and biological engineering department, may be found at www.bagley.msstate.edu.
Complete details about MSU are available at www.msstate.edu.