Lynn earns NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award

Elon senior Geoffrey Lynn has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Award to continue his research at the graduate school level. He is the first Elon student to earn this prestigious fellowship. Details...

Lynn worked closely with faculty mentor Joel Karty, assistant professor of chemistry, to develop his original research proposal for the fellowship. Lynn, at left in the photo with Karty, will use the fellowship to explore a revolutionary method for constructing chemical probes that can be used to recognize specific cancer cells and measure the expression of proteins on the cells’ surface. The research could have far-reaching impacts on medical applications and techniques used for basic research.

The fellowship will provide Lynn with an annual $30,000 stipend for three years, plus the cost of tuition, which can be used at any U.S. or international graduate institution. The NSF awards about 1,000 fellowships each year from a pool of almost 10,000 applicants that includes first- and second-year graduate students at top research institutions. More than one-third of the awards were given to students from a dozen or so top research schools, such as Stanford, MIT, Harvard and Cal Tech.

Lynn credits faculty mentors like Karty and Karl Sienerth, associate professor of chemistry, for his successful application, as well as Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program, which sponsors SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences) and SURF (Student Undergraduate Research Forum), held each April.

“I wouldn’t have stood a chance as an applicant without my mentors and the Undergraduate Research Program,” says Lynn, a chemistry and biology major. “Travel grants, SURF and SURE have been important catalysts in the overall process. Participating in SURE during summer 2004 prepared me for research work. Presenting at SURF as a freshman gave me the confidence and preparation I needed to present at professional conferences. Travel grants allowed me to attend and present my work at professional conferences.”

Lynn said Mark David Lim, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco, was supportive as a mentor during Lynn’s research work there in summer 2006.

In 2005, Lynn became the first Elon student to receive a Goldwater
Scholarship, considered the premier undergraduate award of its type in
math, the natural sciences and engineering. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Jane M. Baird Endowed Scholarship.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships recognize and support outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. NSF Fellows are expected to become experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering.