Applying for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship is an extensive process. It involves gathering transcripts, obtaining thorough letters of recommendation and writing three separate essays on past research experience. While most applicants take three to four months to perfect their fellowship application, Gwen Linde, a geology graduate student at the University of Nevada, submitted her application in only a month.
Despite the limited time schedule, Linde won the 2007 NSF fellowship award because of her potential to become a knowledge expert in her area of study, geology.
Now that she has won, she wants to help other University of Nevada students who are interested in applying for a NSF grant in the future. She even is willing to let students look at the package she prepared for her own application.
"Students shouldn't be pessimistic about these kinds of programs," Linde said. "People from UNR think they can't get something like this, because it's a small school. But they can, and they should talk to anyone who can help them."
The fellowship will act as a stipend for Linde and provide her with $30,000 per twelve-month period. She can use the money over a five-year period even though she will only receive funding for up to three years.
Linde said the money is attached to her and not a project. That means with the money, she can research as many geologic projects as she wants over the five-year period. She also said studying geology in Nevada is a perfect fit because of the vast geologic opportunities the state presents.
"Reno is a great location for me," Linde said. "I'm close to my family, I like living in the mountains and the geology program at the University of Nevada is great."
Linde took an unconventional route to attend graduate school. Graduating from UC Berkeley in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in paleontology, she then went on to serve in the United States Air Force for 27 years. After retiring from the Air Force, she decided to return to school at the University of Nevada to study geology.
With the NSF fellowship grant, Linde will be able to take her life experiences, her interest in geology and devote herself to researching a subject she loves.
The National Science Foundation was created by a congressional act in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare and to secure national defense," (www.nsf.org). Over the years, the foundation has been responsible for inventions such as the Internet, web browsers, ink-jet printers, camcorders and even American Sign Language.