Published: April 20, 2020

Congratulation to Ella Hushka and Abby Kimball for earning prestigious NSF graduate fellowships.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. 

Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

Ella HushkaElla Hushka photo

Chemical & Biological Engineering, CU Boulder

Research - Intestinal organoids are self‐organized, 3D tissues that are typically derived from stem cells, grown in a matrix and capture key functional, structural, and biological complexity of the organ from which they are derived. This unparalleled biomimicry holds great promise as a means to study organogenesis and disease, screen drug candidates, personalize medicine, and supply tissue for transplantation. While organoids provide an unparalleled architectural and functional complexity, this sophistication is also responsible for the high variability and lack of reproducibility of uniform crypt‐villus structures. To address this, we propose to develop dynamic, user-directed hydrogel scaffolds for adult intestinal stem cells and use them to study and optimize their expansion, colony formation, and differentiation to form organoids. Once a synthetic scaffolding system is developed, I am interested in applying the platform to test hypothesis related to mechanosensing and various gastrointestinal diseases.


Abby Kimball

Biology and Biomedical Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis Abby KImball photo

Research - Focus is on the genetic and molecular characterization of the complex life cycle of Cryptosporidium parasites. I am utilizing scRNAseq and dimensionality reduction algorithms to examine transcriptional regulation throughout parasite development and pathogenesis. I am also generating tagged C. parvum via CRISPR/Cas9 in order to identify distinct life stages and examine centromere dynamics during cell division. The identification of robust genetic markers for C. parvum life stages will allow the field to utilize high throughput analysis methods. Furthermore, studying the complex process of sexual reproduction may reveal mechanisms for Cryptosporidium speciation and host adaptation.