North Central College President Troy D. Hammond is one of some 63 outstanding alumni of the National Science Foundation’s highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) to be honored and profiled by the prestigious organization upon the occasion of its 60th anniversary.
Hammond and a handful of other GRFP alumni are being recognized for their career accomplishments. From more than 46,500 who have been named fellows since the program’s inception in 1952, the select group of honorees includes U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Thomas Cech. Alumni of the GRFP include 40 Nobel Laureates and 450 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers,” says Gisele Muller-Parker, program director of the GRFP. “We looked at career accomplishments and honors of the nominees, and becoming a college president—that’s a great contribution to the nation.”
Hammond was awarded a GRFP in 1990 while he was a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology earning a bachelor of science degree in physics. He applied his award to the doctoral program in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was mentored by thesis advisor Dr. David Pritchard and Nobel Laureate Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle. As part of the GRFP, Hammond studied atomic properties while leading a team of graduate and undergraduate researchers. Hammond also earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Milligan College.
“I’m honored to receive this recognition from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program,” Hammond says. “My fellowship opened the door for me to go to MIT—the pinnacle of physics education and research in the world—resulting in a life-changing Ph.D. experience.”
Hammond began serving as the 10th president in the 152-year history of North Central College on Jan. 1.
“I’m thrilled to now serve as president of North Central College, where I can use my passion to impact a new generation of students and perhaps inspire a few new NSF Fellows,” Hammond says.
North Central College alumni have been selected for Graduate Research Fellowships. Nathan Montgomery ’00 was awarded a GRF and went on to earn a doctorate in genetics and a medical degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is a resident in pathology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Emily Albright ’10 earned a GRF and is pursuing a doctorate in microbiology at the University of Wisconsin.
“Small liberal arts colleges tend to produce the best applicants for the GRFP,” Muller-Parker says.
The National Science Foundation’s GRFP 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 at accredited U.S. institutions. For 2013, the NSF awarded 2,000 Graduate Research Fellowships from more than 13,000 applications. Today, each award is valued at $126,000 and includes three years of support with a $30,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the institution.