Kate Alfieri '10 Wins NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Kate Alfieri ’10 will soon realize her dream of pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, thanks to her recently awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.
The NSF offers select college students grants for graduate study in science, engineering and math. The award will fund Alfieri’s tuition and provide a stipend for her first three years of graduate study, and also includes a travel allowance for international research.
“Receiving the award is a huge honor in the scientific community,” says Alfieri, who plans to specialize in biophysical chemistry. “Since I’ll enter Berkeley with my own funding, I will potentially have more flexibility in choosing a research group. In addition, it will provide me with opportunities such as traveling to international meetings.”
The NSF Fellowship isn’t the only honor Alfieri has received this spring. She has also won the Philadelphia American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholastic Achievement Award, presented annually to the highest-achieving ACS-certified chemistry major in a graduating class. Alfieri earned her ACS certification by taking courses, such as biochemistry, that are not needed for the standard chemistry major.
As an undergraduate, Alfieri has worked closely with her thesis advisor, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Casey Londergan, to develop an infrared probe that will characterize the interactions between antimicrobial peptides and bacterial membranes. “I have known Kate since her freshman year, and I have been consistently impressed by her hard work and her clear insight into scientific problems,” says Londergan. “She is a uniquely wonderful scientist with a very bright future.”
Alfieri has also been part of Associate Professor of Biology Rob Fairman’s research group, who studied aggregation in Huntington’s disease using a model polyglutamine peptide. She has been listed as a co-author on two published papers, and in February she presented her work at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, courtesy of the Society’s Student Travel Award.
“I have had an excellent research experience at Haverford,” she says. “It has taught me to think like a scientist—to come up with new and innovative ways to approach difficult scientific questions.”