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CCEE Ph.D. student Cassie Gann-Phillips among 20 NC State students to receive NSF award

Cassie Gann-Phillips

CCEE Ph.D. student Cassie Gann-Phillips was among 20 NC State students who earned awards earlier this year through the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program that will help support their graduate school research and other pursuits.

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. NSF especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, veterans and undergraduate seniors to apply.

The purpose of the awards is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education.

Students interested in learning more about the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program or other prestigious fellowships should contact the University Fellowships Office for information and assistance.

Gann-Phillips is from Asheboro, North Carolina, and earned a BSCE with a minor in design studies from NC State. She is now working on her Ph.D. in the same area, with an anticipated graduation date of May 2025.

Outside of her Ph.D. studies, Gann-Phillips is a graduate teaching assistant and member of Dr. Ashly Cabas’ research laboratory group, GeoQuake. She is also a member of Chi Epsilon, the Geo-Institute Graduate Student Organization, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Seismological Society of America. In addition, she is a piano instructor for the NC State Musical Empowerment chapter and a member of Friends Campus Ministries.

Gann-Phillips’ geotechnical earthquake engineering research is focused on the attenuation of seismic waves as they travel through soils. She will investigate the connections between the scales at which different attenuation mechanisms affect the dissipation of seismic energy within porous media. Through her research, she would like to fundamentally change the way we think of soil damping by developing an advanced attenuation parameterization for engineering and seismic design guidelines.

“When I was named as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude,” Gann-Phillips said. “I am so grateful to be a part of such a supportive research environment within the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.”

Gann-Phillips said her interest in studying geotechnical engineering stems from her love for Jesus Christ and an interest in building.

“The geotechnical engineering references made when describing a strong foundation of faith within the Bible have always resonated with me, and I am very fortunate to be able to explore the strength of nature’s designs within my coursework and research,” she explained. “Growing up, I enjoyed helping my dad after school on various job sites for his local grading and hauling business where I learned many things about soil, drainage and excavations. I became interested in earthquakes after personally experiencing ground motions during the 2011 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake as a teenager, and I am so glad that I have been able to combine these interests through my earthquake engineering research.”

Gann-Phillips is now continuing her doctoral studies and earthquake engineering research as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at NC State.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with fellow earthquake engineers, both nationally and internationally, through my work,” she said. “I also am excited to continue my research group’s outreach work for young students interested in civil engineering. After graduation, I hope to be able to teach and mentor students through engineering courses or outreach programs.”


This story was originally published by NC State Student and Academic Affairs News.