Long fascinated by primates, Jay Schwartz ’12 conducted undergraduate research with macaques as a Minnesota Zoo intern. Now he’s at Ohio State University studying how baboons communicate stress, examining the relationship between stress hormone levels and vocal characteristics. The results can be used to improve the conditions of primates in captivity by minimizing their stress.
Says Schwartz, “At Mac I learned how to think critically and see what scholars in the scientific literature are missing. That really helps you propose a project that fills a niche big enough to get support from programs like the NSF GRFP. Mac also gave me an academic background diverse and versatile enough that I could major in biology and end up in an anthropology graduate program.”
Schwartz is one of six Macalester alumni chosen by the National Science Foundation to receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards. The coveted GRFP provides three years of financial support for graduate study—a $32,000 stipend each year as well as a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution.
In her research at Duke University, Dianna Amasino ’13 is exploring how neuroscience can inform our understanding of the roles of identity and social incentives in economic decision-making. She credits supportive Mac faculty with enabling her to study both neuroscience and economics, which positioned her for her current collaboration.
Elijah Bernstein-Cooper ’13 is studying astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he will use radio and infrared observations to investigate how atomic hydrogen gas transitions to molecular hydrogen gas—an essential ingredient in forming stars. “The opportunities to conduct independent research at Macalester were numerous and priceless,” says Bernstein-Cooper, who did several terms of research with his advisor, physics and astronomy Professor John Cannon. He adds that the Science and Research Office, especially director Joan Toohey, “provided invaluable support for travel to conferences and multiple world-class telescopes.”
In his work at SUNY–Stony Brook, Micah Mumper ’13 is investigating the psycholinguistics of reading, specifically how memory representations are updated and how time influences that updating process. His work is inspired by the psycholinguistics work of his mentor, psychology Professor Brooke Lea.
At the University of Colorado–Boulder, Allison Reed-Harris ’10 focuses on the physical and chemical properties of the air-water interface and their implications for formation and growth of atmospheric aerosols. She credits her advisors, Professors Chad Topaz, Thomas Varberg, and Paul Fischer, “who instilled in me a passion for chemical research that makes my career exciting and rewarding.”
Hallie Boyer ’08 is exploring thermodynamic modeling of atmospheric aerosols and multiphase flows through the University of Minnesota’s mechanical engineering program.
Five additional Macalester alumni received honorable mentions: Anne Virnig ’09, Kacper Skakuj ’14, Willem Laursen ’11, Rachel Diamond ’11, and Katherine Clifford ’09.