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School of Science Student and Alum Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded senior biology major Sara Jackrel and mathematics alum Gina-Maria Pomann its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship, which provides three years of support for graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees.


After first learning about the fellowship during a summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at West Texas A&M, Jackrel decided to pursue it at the encouragement of her faculty advisor. Her application included a research proposal on Anolis lizards entitled “Facilitation or regulation: the role of multi-species introductions on community structure,” along with a personal statement. She acknowledged faculty members in TNCJ’s Biology Department, Drs. Howard Reinert and Janet Morrison, for their guidance in revising the research proposal. Jackrel will be enrolling in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago next fall where she plans to study the implications of environmental perturbations, particularly species introductions and extinctions, on community and food web structure.


As a first year graduate student at North Carolina State University, Pomann plans to conduct interdisciplinary statistical research and says the NSF fellowship will enable her to design her own projects and collaborate with other researchers. “Within the next year or so I will narrow down my interests and begin to learn about a variety of problems which will ultimately lead to my dissertation research topic,” she explained. She plans to focus on problems that have a direct impact on society. “I plan to concentrate on problems ideally within the intersection of biological and environmental statistics,” Pomann explained. She is particularly interested in learning more about detecting cancer clusters and is almost certain to be involved in her current advisor’s research funded by the National Cancer Institute to develop new methods for the design and analysis of cancer clinical trials.


At the same time, Pomann is extremely passionate about promoting diversity in the sciences and mentoring other students, participating in programs such as the Infinite Possibilities Conference and Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP). She is more than willing to mentor students looking to pursue this education and career path, visit her website for further information:


For more information about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, visit