Computational Medicine Graduate Student on Applying for an NSF Fellowship

Paheli Desai-Chowdhry

Photo by Leticia Ortiz

Nov 3, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

Agraduate student in the Computational Medicine Department, Paheli Desai-Chowdhry, recently won a National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Award and shared her experience in applying for the program.

Desai-Chowdhry began the biomathematics Ph.D. program at UCLA in September 2018, concentrating on mathematical modeling in neuroscience to determine how brain function at the cellular level relates to holistic brain function. Her advisor is Van Savage, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and biomathematics.

The NSF GRFP provides $34,000 to the selected student fellows and $12,000 to their department for three years. Graduate students may only apply in their first or second year. Paheli recommends “finding a research question that excites you, and breaking it down into at least three sub-questions that can be turned into concrete project ideas.” Especially for second-year students, she recommends “working on this question early and taking opportunities to publish or present results in oral or poster sessions before applying.”

While the application deadline for the 2021 NSF graduate fellowship has already passed, the program is one of the best ways to begin a research career. Interested graduate students can learn more from Desai-Chowdhry’s experience here.

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