Earlham College senior Miette Hennessy has been selected for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.
The fellowship will support Hennessy’s pursuit of a doctorate in plant pathology. Fellows receive three years of financial support, including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000.
“I’m really interested in scientific research and this fellowship will give me the flexibility to do the kind of work I want to do—where I want to do it,” Hennessy said.
“I am most interested in learning how soil microbial communities function, because these organisms can have impacts from the molecular level all the way to large-scale climate and ecosystem effects,” she said. “Plant pathology as a whole seeks to understand plant disease on a physiological level but also to tackle grower problems and work toward more sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.”
Hennessy has become one of the nation’s top college scientists while studying at Earlham, earning the Goldwater Scholarship during her junior year. The biochemistry major has participated in student-faculty research on campus and was hired last summer as an intern with the Negaunee Integrative Research Center studying lichens from the collections at the Chicago Field Museum. She is a co-author for a research project with Earlham Assistant Professor of Biology Lindsey McGee on antibiotic phage resistance that is in the peer review stages prior to publication.
“The faculty at Earlham have supported my research interests and mentored me in the application process for these awards,” Hennessy said. “Many of the students who earned the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship come from larger universities who are very strong in research, but the guidance of Earlham faculty, staff and alumni helps students be competitive for these kinds of awards. The amount of outside support I received can’t be understated.”