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Honors College Senior Receives Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Honors College Senior, Megan Guidry, has been selected as a 2020 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow.

Ogden Honors College and Louisiana Service and Leadership (LASAL) senior Megan Guidry, has been selected as a 2020 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow. There were approximately 13,000 applicants for this year’s GRFP competition, and 2,076 applicants were elected as NSF Graduate Research Fellows. 

Guidry will receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees. She will also have opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct her own research. 

Guidry is a biological sciences senior in the College of Science, currently finishing her honors thesis, Variation in the Microbiome of the Eastern Oyster: Environmental Influences and Effects on Oyster Health with Assistant Professor Morgan Kelly.

“She is bright, resourceful, and independent, and she is one of the best undergraduate researchers I have ever mentored. She demonstrates a phenomenal level of curiosity and independence for an undergraduate researcher, both traits that will serve her well in graduate-level research,” says Dr. Kelly. 

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program application requires applicants to outline how they envision graduate school preparing them for a career that allows them to contribute to expanding scientific understanding as well as broadly benefit society. Guidry credited her childhood in Luling, Louisiana as inspiration for her research and interest in fisheries and coastal science: 

“Like a typical Louisianan, I grew up hearing family stories of fishing from pirogues (small Cajun canoe) and crabbing from the wharf. I caught my first redfish the weekend before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. When Katrina did collide with Louisiana on August 29, 2005, its 18-foot storm surge charged up the man-made navigational canal, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MR-GO), and the adjacent Industrial Canal funneling water into my father’s childhood neighborhood, the lower Ninth Ward, and flooding my grandparents’ home in Chalmette, Louisiana with 8 feet of water,” she recalls.  

In graduate school, she plans to study economically, ecologically, and culturally valuable bivalves in order to help sustain healthy fisheries under threat of environmental changes. Through the LASAL Program, Guidry received multidisciplinary education on poverty and coastal land loss in Louisiana. She has met and talked with fishermen who are seeing Louisiana’s landscape transform into seascape to gain a deep understanding of the socio-economic and cultural implications of climate change and sea level rise on coastal communities. 

LASAL Scholars are encouraged to participate in an internship their junior year. Guidry interned at The Water Institute of the Gulf where she completed an independent research project studying the physical, environmental factors that could cause seasonal shifts of microbial communities in the Mississippi River to help identify a core microbiome for the lower Mississippi River and measure shifts in the core to better understand how River input influences large scale processes in coastal oceans such as the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. 

Through the HNRS 3025: Louisiana Coastal Planning course, she also participated in research where she helped design a Virtual Realty (VR) experience to educate coastal communities on the need for sustainable coastal planning. Using VR headsets and a series of 360° annotated photos and ambient sounds, her research group told the story of land loss and sea level rise on Louisiana’s coast. 

Guidry will start her PhD at the University of Rhode Island in oyster genomics. Her research will focus on the impacts of humans and climate change on oyster populations. Specifically, she’ll be investigating how multiple stressors, such as sewage effluent and ocean acidification, are impacting oysters at the genomic level. 

About GRFP

GRFP is a critical program in NSF's overall strategy to develop a globally engaged workforce necessary to ensure the nation's leadership in advancing science and engineering research and innovation. Former NSF fellows have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers and been honored as Nobel laureates.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For more information on the Graduate Research Fellowship, visit http://www.nsfgrfp.org/.

Office of Fellowship Advising 

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising was created to assist students in applying for prestigious scholarships and fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, Mitchell, Udall, Truman and Goldwater awards. Students interested in applying for these and other scholarship opportunities or for more information on the office, contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of fellowship advising, at fellowships@lsu.edu.

LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.

LSU College of Science

The LSU College of Science is an international leader in scientific research and instruction, elevating LSU to the highest level of excellence among major research universities in the U.S. and abroad. The college consists of five academic departments including biological sciences, chemistry, geology & geophysics, mathematics, and physics & astronomy, and the LSU Museum of Natural Science. Seven major fields of study and more than 20 concentrations are available to LSU students interested in pursuing a science major at LSU. College of Science students make up nearly half of LSU’s top graduates. For more information on LSU’s College of Science, visit https://www.lsu.edu/science/.