NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Recipients for 2023

Amelia Blankenau
Jacki Huerta
Caroline Ostrand
Stephanie Valle

Congratulations to the following graduate students for receiving NSF Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP) in 2023: Amelia Blankenau (Counseling Psychology), Jacki Huerta (Social Psychology), Caroline Ostrand (Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research), and Stephanie Valle (Counseling Psychology).

The NSF GRFP 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. The NSF GRFP provides three years of support over a five-year fellowship period for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. 

Amelia Blankenau is a second-year PhD student in Counseling Psychology advised by Dr. Rich Lee. Amelia is also a practicum counselor at Student Counseling Services and a teaching assistant for Cultural Psychology, Research Methods, and Psychology of Women and Gender. Her research interests include the experiences of transracial, transnational adoptees raised in White families. For the NSF GRFP, Amelia proposed a longitudinal, multi-informant, and mixed methods study investigating the intergenerational transmission of racial attitudes and its impact on youth development in transracial adoptive families. 

Jacki Huerta is a first-year student in Social Psychology advised by Jeffry Simpson and Alexander Rothman. Jacki is a member of the Social Interaction Lab directed by Jeffry Simpson. With this fellowship, Jacki intends to explore the impact of particular stressors experienced by couples from underrepresented socioeconomic backgrounds on their interpersonal functioning in romantic relationships. Jacki aims to identify protective factors that may improve the quality of their relationships. 

Caroline Ostrand is a first-year graduate student in the Clinical Science and Psychopathy Research Program (CSPR) advised by Dr. Monica Luciana, and she is a member of the Brain and Behavioral Processes Lab. She is motivated by research questions that seek to explain the development of functional specificity in the human brain. Currently, Caroline is focused on the initial stage of the project titled “Development and cognitive correlates of functionality distinct thalamic nuclei.” This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Monica Luciana and Dr. Paul Collins as they aim to “enhance basic conceptions of the developing thalamus using novel analytic strategies.”

Stephanie Valle is a first-year PhD student in Counseling Psychology advised by Dr. Patricia Frazier. Her research interests are shaped by her identities as a first-generation student, Mexican-American, and Chicago native. Stephanie’s research explores stressors such as intergenerational trauma, financial barriers, and discrimination. Currently, Stephanie is investigating the role of culturally related stressors in academic achievement and persistence.

Recent past award recipients from the Department of Psychology can be viewed on the department’s intranet.

Composed by Madison Stromberg, communications assistant.

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