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NMSU mechanical engineering doctorate student awarded NSF research fellowship

Samantha Ceballes, a Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University, has received the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program award.


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Samantha Ceballes, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at New Mexico State University, has received the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellowship. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

She began her doctorate studies in mechanical engineering in January 2018. Ceballes earned a bachelor’s degree in both aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics in December 2017. She was the Highest Honors Graduate for the College of Engineering at the fall commencement ceremony, completing her study with a 4.0 GPA.

The fellowship has an annual stipend of $34,000 per year for three years and an additional $12,000 per year for university tuition and fees.

According to the fellowship website, “the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program 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.”

An Alamogordo, New Mexico, native, Ceballes said she was thrilled when she was informed of the award, which allows her to focus full-time on her studies and research.

“I’ve always found success here, so I wanted to apply for it and if I could stay here that would be all-around great,” she said. “I was excited to talk to my family and research adviser when I learned I had been awarded.”

Abdessattar Abdelkefi, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Ceballes’ research adviser, introduced her to nano-technology, while she was still an undergraduate student.

“When I first met her, in addition to noting her excellent GPA of 4.0, I came to see that Samantha is an exceptional student who has a great imagination and strong capabilities,” Abdelkefi said. “Samantha would like to work only on challenging projects where complicated systems are present. From my first meeting with her, I came to see great potential in her as a graduate student and as a scientist.”

The website also states, “NSF Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation’s technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.”

Ceballes credits Abdelkefi with not only first informing her about the NSF GRFP Fellowship but also helping her discover an interest in research.

“I’m so thankful to him for introducing the topic to me, and now we can keep building. I’m so lucky that what I did in that last year of my undergraduate, I will be able to continue with it.”

Abdelkefi added that since working with his Nonlinear Dynamics and Energy Harvesting Lab, Ceballes has co-authored four journal papers with his collaborators and graduate students and is leading the writing of several other journal papers in the fields of nanomechanics, nano-sensors and drug delivery.

To learn more about the fellowship visit https://www.nsfgrfp.org.