MSU graduate students receive National Science Foundation research fellowships


Danielle Grimes (Photo by Megan Bean)Derrick Jones (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Two students at Mississippi State University each are receiving one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships for graduate studies.

Biological engineering doctoral student Danielle Grimes of Starkville and mathematics master’s student Derrick T. Jones of Belzoni are 2016 recipients of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Among 2,000 fellows selected this year from nearly 17,000 applicants, Grimes and Jones each will receive three years of financial support, including a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 annual cost-of-education allowance.

Additionally, they are being provided access to NSF’s Enhanced Cyber-Infrastructure via Extreme Sciences and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and also are eligible for funding from the foundation’s GROW and GRIP programs.

Grimes holds a bachelor’s in biological engineering from MSU, where she is conducting research on women in engineering. Specifically, she seeks to learn more about what motivates women to go into the field and how such motivations can be replicated in recruitment programs.

“Mississippi State is a great place to begin some of this research because we have such a diverse population that is relatively under researched in these areas,” Grimes said.  

She also expressed appreciation for the support of Associate Dean and Professor James Warnock and Assistant Research Professor Jean Mohammadi-Aragh of the Bagley College of Engineering, as well as fellow research assistant Rachel J. McFalls-Brown of Brandon.

McFalls-Brown is an aerospace engineering master’s student who earlier completed a bachelor’s in the subject at MSU.

“Mississippi State has been a long lasting home for me, and I have been able to see what all this university has to offer,” Grimes said. “Mississippi State conducts so much research and affects so many lives, and I am just grateful to be able to contribute to that research.”

During his doctoral studies at MSU, Jones plans to use applied mathematics research to investigate and model the damage produced by lightning strikes on composite materials. The research can further assist in the development of safe and reliable composite aircrafts, he said.

Jones said he is appreciative of the guidance he has received from individuals at the university, including Lori Bruce and Ratneshwar “Ratan” Jha. Bruce is dean of the MSU Graduate School and associate vice president for academic affairs; Jha, a professor of aerospace engineering and director of MSU’s Advanced Composites Institute.

“Mississippi State is an excellent place to conduct this level of research,” Jones said. “MSU has an outstanding research infrastructure, including exceptionally equipped research labs and faculty who are active in externally funded research in my chosen field.”

Jones said he is grateful for the “esteemed honor” from the NSF, as it provides him with the opportunity to represent MSU, his home region of the Mississippi Delta and Mississippi Valley State University, where he completed his bachelor’s in computer science.

“Representing these schools on a national level drives me to be the best that I can be with the opportunity at hand,” he said.

For more information about 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, visit

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