Texas Engineers Selected for 2022 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

April 19, 2022

Five graduate students with the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering have been selected for the 2022 National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. 

Six students in the department were also selected as honorable mention: Laura Homiller, Shanmukh Kutagulla, Kevin Matthews, Samuel Murphy, Emma Peavler, and Kristen Stewart.

Several of the winning students were mentored one-on-one by mechanical engineering faculty members, Mehran Tehrani and Ann Majewicz Fey. We appreciate their continued dedication to supporting our graduate students.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend. Meet the winners below. 


cailtin benway-trejo

Caitlin Benway-Trejo

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Program: Materials Science and Engineering

Research Area: Electromachanical Energy Storage

What does receiving this fellowship mean to you? Receiving the NSF fellowship as a first-generation Indigenous student is an incredible honor. I am beyond grateful and humbled to be recognized for this award. This funding will support me in my efforts to contribute to the energy storage field and in my continued outreach with minority communities. I give many thanks to my PI, mentors, lab mates, family, and friends who have supported me along this journey.


chris martin

Chris Martin

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Program: Mechanical Engineering

Research Area: Dynamic Systems and Control

What does receiving this fellowship mean to you? Receiving the NSF GRFP is a huge honor that I am deeply grateful for. In addition to providing for me materially while I pursue my Ph. D, this fellowship will open doors for me throughout my research career. These opportunities will help me to mentor the next generation of STEM students and develop innovative technologies that will benefit society. I would like to thank my graduate advisor Dr. Dongmei Chen and everyone who has guided me during my time as a student researcher. I could not have won this award without their support. 


stephanie molitor

Stephanie Molitor

Hometown: Denver, CO

Program: Biomechanical Engineering

Research Area: Human Gait Biomechanics

What does receiving this fellowship mean to you? Receiving the NSF Fellowship allows me to help improve fall prevention strategies by researching what mechanisms people employ to maintain their balance during locomotion.


seth reed

Seth Reed

Hometown: Schenectady, NY

Program: Materials Science and Engineering

Research Area: Electrochemical Energy and Storage

What does receiving this fellowship mean to you? Receiving this fellowship represents growth for me. I have developed as a researcher and scientific writer through the support of my professors and colleagues. This growth is represented in the fellowship applications I have submitted over the previous years; with each year, my research experience has continued to clarify my goals and strengthen the passion behind my work. I am excited for this Fellowship to support my path through education and research in the energy storage field.


sofia valdez

Sofia Valdez

Hometown: Laredo, TX

Program: Mechanical Engineering

Research Area: Manufacturing and Design

What does receiving this fellowship mean to you? Receiving this fellowship means so much to me. Of course, the financial support from the fellowship allows me to devote more of my time to my research. More importantly, the fellowship has increased my confidence as a PhD student by validating that the work I'm doing is important and valuable. I'm so excited for the next steps of my research and to continue working with Dr. Seepersad and my lab mates in our efforts to push the boundaries of engineering design and additive manufacturing.