Physics student earns $100,000 NSF Research Fellowship

Friday, April 09, 2010

University of Tulsa senior Erin Stranford has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship worth more than $100,000.

Erin Stranford will graduate this May with degrees in both physics and applied mathematics. A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, she came to TU as a National Merit Finalist and received the TU Presidential Scholarship, the university’s most prestigious student award.

She will begin her graduate studies next year at Cornell and plans to complete her Ph.D. in optical physics. Her professional goal is to become a research scientist and professor at the university level specializing in quantum optics.

Stranford is an officer in the Society of Physics Students and has been actively involved with the Journal Club, the TU physics department’s outreach program for local high school students. Her undergraduate research at TU investigates new ways to detect environmental toxins through chemical sensing waves — research that helped her prepare for the NSF fellowship and beyond.

“A main component of the NSF application is describing past research experiences, so I was able to discuss the research I have done at TU and at summer internships,” Stranford said.

Working with her faculty mentor, Associate Professor Scott Holmstrom, her research is a collaborative effort with the Naval Research Laboratories and Johns Hopkins University. She also has conducted research at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and at the University of Colorado.

For more information about TU's success in nationally competitive scholarships and undergraduate research, visit the Nationally Competitive Scholarships page.

Amethyst Cavallaro