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Four UT doctoral students have been selected to be a part of the 2016 National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The students receiving fellowships are:

  • Benjamin Brock of Johnson City, Tennessee—computer science. Brock’s research project will focus on program languages and computer architecture. He will use new programming paradigms to make writing code for computer architecture easier.
  • Andrew Orekhov of Morristown, Tennessee—mechanical engineering. Orekhov is interested in robotics for surgery and rehabilitation. He will be researching control techniques for flexible robotic systems in minimally invasive surgery applications.
  • Jayde Aufrecht of McCook, Nebraska—energy science and engineering. Aufrecht has designed transparent plastic soil particles to be able to visualize how plant roots and bacteria interact with each other underground. She plans on changing the carbon dioxide, hydration, and temperature in her miniature greenhouses to determine the effect of extreme weather events on below-ground life.
  • Nicholas Coles of Longwood, Florida—social psychology. Coles’ research project will focus on using indirect measures of emotion to observe whether happiness and sadness can co-occur to produce bittersweet emotional experiences. This research will contribute to an ongoing debate “core affect,” the structure that underlies emotional experience.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, GRFP has a history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success academically and professionally.

Since 1952, NSF has funded close to 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. Currently, forty-two Fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rising seniors intending to apply for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship should contact UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships at Graduate students are encouraged to work with their departmental supervisors and the Graduate School.



Erin Chapin (865-974-2187,