Scott Cushing will be able to continue his love for nanotechnology research in graduate school, while getting paid for it.
The grant will give Cushing, a physics major, three-years pay and more freedom in his research.
“We are very happy for Scott and his attainment of an NSF grant,” said Lisa DeFrank-Cole, director of the ASPIRE Office. “We are fortunate that WVU encourages students like Scott to apply for national awards because we have eminently qualified applications who make us proud every year.”
Cushing is focusing his research on surface plasmon resonance. Surface plasmons are electromagnetic waves that propagate on the surface of material in a direction parallel to the metal/dieelectric interface. When the surface plasmons are excited in nanoscale shapes they are referred to as localized surface plasmons.
Cushing’s research can be used in the creation of biological sensors, nanoscale circuitry and other things that can be used in national defense including explosives and anthrax detection.
“All the phenomenon I am looking at is thousands of times smaller than what you can see with your eye,” he said. “I have never directly seen anything I have made in my life, I have to use special microscopes. It is a fascination that we can control and direct science on such a scale and we can never directly see what is going on. I love it.”
Cushing spent a month completing the application process for the highly-competitive grant. He was required to record his previous research experience and propose the topic he would work on during graduate school.
“I am ecstatic that I received it,” he said. “It is nice to know all the work I put into the application went towards something, and being able to have a guaranteed salary is really great.”
More than 12,000 students from around the country applied for the grant, 2,000 received awards valued at up to $121,500 per fellowship. Recipients received a $30,000 annual stipend and a $10,500 allowance to be paid to the University.
After graduate school, Cushing hopes to eventually become a professor so he can work with students and keep doing a variety of research.
The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which began in 1952, is a federal fellowship program designed to ensure the vitality of the United States scientific and technological workforce and to reinforce its diversity.
The program supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics disciplines. Former grant recipients have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering research while becoming leaders in their careers.
For more information on the program, visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org/ .
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