UO names 2023 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows

The Division of Graduate Studies is thrilled to announce UO’s 2023 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows. This prestigious fellowship is awarded to outstanding master’s and doctoral students in science, technology, engineering, math, and STEM education disciplines. Fellows are selected on their promise to develop breakthrough research.

This year’s awardees are working on fascinating projects including bee conservation, climate change messaging, the impacts of stress on the skeletal system and much more. Read on to learn about the awardees and join us in congratulating these scholars on their tremendous achievement.

If you are a first-year student in a qualifying STEM field and want to learn more about this NSF GRF program, click here

Angelique Allen
Allen seeks to decode the complex visual processing system of octopuses, including their camera-like eyes which are similar to that of humans. She is focused on how octopuses process polarization information, meaning the angle of a light wave relative to the direction of its propagation. To determine how octopuses encode polarization information, she will measure neural activity in visual processing center in response to visual stimuli that vary in first luminance and then polarization angle. Then, using retrograde tracing, she will determine how this information travels to different downstream brain regions. Outside of the lab, Allen conducts octopus demonstrations to encourage young people to be curious and creative when faced with scientific questions.
Gaby Bailey
Bailey studies carbon nanohoops which are new types of carbon nanomaterials with unique optical properties developed in the Jasti Research Group. Unlike most other materials, the advantage of carbon nanohoops is that they can be synthesized with atomistic precision. She is systematically altering the structure of the carbon nanohoop by incorporating other elements like sulfur or nitrogen and studying the effects on the fluorescence emission of these materials. Brightly fluorescent materials with tunable optical properties can be envisioned to play a role in biological imaging as well as in new light emitting materials.
Hannah Cantrell
Cantrell is studying market integration effects on the skeleton in the Shuar, an Ecuadorian Indigenous population who participate in the Shuar Health and Life History Project, co-directed by her UO advisor, Dr. Josh Snodgrass. Using biomarkers and bone turnover markers, Hannah is interested in how health, inequity, and lifestyle factors influence the skeleton and works at the intersection of skeletal and dental biology, human biology, and evolutionary medicine.
Justin Krier
Krier is a graduate student working in Planetary Science with Dr. Carol Paty. He is working to better understand what is happening inside “Io,” one of Jupiter’s moons. He is looking at the magnetic relationship between the planet and moon. Justin is also interested in making the science more accessible and approachable to the general public. You can often find him at the Eugene Science Center, or drinking a cup of coffee sharing a conversation or presenting about what is happening in our solar system.
Katya Podkovyroff Lewis
Lewis is a Biology Ph.D. student who is focused on paleoecology and paleoclimate insights in lake sediments to predict ecosystems and vegetative community changes. Her research will serve as a means for understanding and reconstructing paleoenvironments that might provide insight to climate change impacts on communities that are facing these challenges. The findings will have implications for conservation biology and highlight the feasibility of combining traditional and molecular approaches for paleoenvironmental work that makes predictions for future warming.
Anastasia Browning O'Hagan
O'Hagan is studying person-to-person variation in how people interpret, evaluate, and decide whether to accept or reject messaging about climate change. Specifically, she is interested in what happens when a person's attitudes about climate change either align or conflict with their values. Her study aims to take the first step toward a more comprehensive model of message reception that can be translated into effective climate change communications.
Rose McDonald
McDonald is a first year PhD student in Dr. Ponisio’s lab where she studies wild bee conservation. For her Ph.D., Rose is reconstructing pollinator habitats in managed forests and, within that system, determining the underlying drivers of pathogen spread among bee communities.
Christopher Machle
Machle is studying how puberty changes the brain. He is specifically focused on how the coordinated release of pubertal hormones impacts the development of white matter (WM), which serves as the structural connections between neurons. While studies using nonhuman animals demonstrate that exposure to these hormones during puberty results in permanent changes to WM organization, the relationship between pubertal hormones and WM in humans remains unclear. Machle’s work will address this gap by densely sampling testosterone, estradiol, and DHEA in 161 adolescent girls across four timepoints of data to examine whether changes in basal hormone levels are associated with changes in WM microstructure.
Kaylee Meyers
Meyers studies biosensors and bioelectronics which involves the development of implantable and wearable sensing platforms. Her thesis work focuses on the engineering of sensors that fully degrade within the body after their functional lifetime is complete. Such sensors could help address complications in orthopedics, sports medicine and more.
Nicolas Daniel Puentes

Puentes is conducting computational modeling of multiferroic superlattices. Multiferroics are materials that have strong magnetoelectric coupling, enabling control of electrical (magnetic) properties with magnetic (electric) fields. The underlying mechanisms that engender multiferroicity are fascinating and developments in multiferroic research would promote significant technological advancements.