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Senior Marlee Strong awarded prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship

Marlee Strong was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. After she receives her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in May, she will begin her doctoral studies in the CCEE department at NC State. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) 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.

“I am very grateful to have been selected as a recipient of this fellowship. This would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from numerous outstanding faculty members in the department that have pushed me to reach my academic and career goals.”                      Marlee Strong

Marlee Strong

As part of CCEE’s undergraduate research program, Strong has been working closely with Dr. Jason Patrick, and the Multifunctional Composites Group since her junior year. “My graduate research proposal is a continuation of my previous research, to integrate self-healing and self-sensing in structural composites,” Strong said. “I am especially grateful for the support of my undergraduate research advisor, Dr. Patrick, and all the members of the research group.” Her proposal was entitled “Self-healing and Self-sensing of Interlaminar Delamination in Fiber-Reinforced Composites via Thermal Remending.”

Two other students from our department received Honorable Mentions, which don’t carry financial support but are also prestigious.


Ashton Stuart

Ashton Stuart is a Masters student who received her BSCE in December of 2019 and was the Valedictorian of her class. As part of the Accelerated Bachelor/Master’s Program she continued her studies in our department under the mentorship of Dr. Giorgio Proestos. Stuart’s proposal was titled “Shear Response of Concrete Walls Subjected to Combined In-Plane and Out-of-Plane Loading.” She will explore how the shear strength in concrete is affected by combined in-plane and out-of-plane loading commonly induced by earthquakes.



Savanna Smith, a doctoral student who works closely with Dr. Francis de los Reyes, also received an Honorable Mention for her proposal entitled “Harnessing fungi to tackle a global water quality issue.” Smith began research as an undergraduate while studying at the University of Texas at Austin, and is passionate about water quality and water treatment. “It helps that I find wastewater treatment super interesting and exciting,” Smith said.

The department is extremely proud of these students, and all 9 students who applied for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. “The application process is rigorous and takes dedication,” said Dr. Doug Call, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering, who holds information sessions each year for interested students. Call, who just recently was chosen for an NSF CAREER Award, also provided ongoing support and encouragement to the students and helped review their proposals. Additionally, each student’s mentor provides reviews and suggested revisions.

Each year, there are more than 15,000 students from around the world country who apply. This year there were just over 2,000 Fellowships awarded, and another 1,787 honorable mentions.

Marlee Strong joins five other current CCEE doctoral students whose research is supported by the NSF GRFP.

Marlee Strong explains her research project during a summer research opportunity in 2019.