Two Auburn Engineering students receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Published: Apr 21, 2023 1:55 PM

By Staff Report

Four Auburn University undergraduate students, including two Auburn Engineering students, have won National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP) for graduate study in the fall.

The purpose of the fellowship program is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. Each fellowship consists of three years of support accessible over a five-year period. The NSF provides a stipend of $34,000 to the fellow and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the degree-granting institution.

“We are especially happy to see a continuation of Auburn students being awarded this prestigious fellowship,” said Tiffany Sippial, director of the Auburn University Honors College. “The NSF GRFP recognizes student potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research, and these awards are a perfect fit for the work being done at Auburn University.”

The following engineering students have been selected as NSF GRFP recipients for 2023:

Katie Leonard will graduate from Auburn in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and minors in dance and sports coaching from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the College of Education, respectively.

Leonard’s research is focused on drug delivery. She studies different therapeutic mechanisms to deliver drugs, such as chemotherapies. The goal of her research is to increase circulation time while mitigating the side effects of the drug.

“I am shocked and honored to be awarded a fellowship with NSF. I want to say thanks to the chemical engineering department at Auburn University for providing me with a well-rounded education and support,” said Leonard. “I am beyond excited to continue my education in the Ph.D. program of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice University in Houston.”

A native of Auburn, Alabama, and a Goldwater Scholar, Peter Abraham will graduate from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a minor in computer science from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

His NSF-funded research project, titled “Understanding Macrophage Phenotype in Obesity-linked Colorectal Cancer using Tissue-Engineered Models,” involves investigating a cell in the body called the macrophage. Abraham explains that, “In obesity, macrophages contribute to chronic inflammation, while in cancer, macrophages in the tumor are not inflammatory and actually promote tumor progression. Considering that obesity is linked to colorectal cancer, I wanted to look at the way macrophages behave in the context of both conditions.”

Abraham works with Elizabeth Lipke, the Mary and John H. Sanders Endowed Professor of chemical engineering, and Michael Greene, associate professor of nutrition in the College of Human Sciences.

“I am elated to receive the fellowship and am truly grateful for my advisers and the many mentors that have contributed to this accomplishment,” said Abraham.

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668
Chemical engineering seniors Katie Leonard and Peter Abraham

Chemical engineering seniors Katie Leonard and Peter Abraham

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