Thesis student and award winner Courtney Miller
Thesis student and award winner Courtney Miller
Thesis student and award winner Ben Valen
Thesis student and award winner Ben Valen

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) announced its 2021 Award Offers and Honorable Mentions on March 23. New College garnered five award offers (two for students graduating in May 2021) and two honorable mentions.

“Five awards and two honorable mentions—this is the best year ever for New College students and alums,” said Duane H. Smith, Ph.D., the assistant director of prestigious fellowships for New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO).

The Award Offers are:

  • Megan Barkdull (2018): Life Sciences/Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University
  • Amanda Markee (2019): Life Sciences/Genomics
  • Rachel Renne (2008): Life Sciences/Ecology
  • Courtney Miller (2021): Computer/Information Science/English/Software Engineering
  • Benjamin Valen (2021): Psychology/Social Psychology

The Honorable Mentions are:

  • Anna Blood (2019): Chemistry/Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanism at Emory University
  • Erika Riffe (2019): Chemistry/Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanism at the University of California, Berkeley

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM and Social and Behavioral Sciences disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions, Smith said.

Fellows receive three years of funding support, which includes an annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution); opportunities for international research and professional development; and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose.

“I’m very honored to have received this fellowship, and grateful for all the people who have supported me and helped me along the way,” said thesis student and award recipient Courtney Miller. “This fall, I will be beginning a Ph.D. in Software Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, where I am very excited to continue my research career.”

Thesis student Ben Valen is equally grateful.

“Being selected as an NSF Graduate Fellow during my final year at New College is a tremendous feat, and it has shown me that I have the necessary skills to obtain a Ph.D. in social psychology,” Valen said. “The funding and benefits from the NSF GRFP will help me continue my research on LGBTQ+ identity over the next few years as I work toward achieving my doctorate, and bring me one step closer to becoming a professor of social psychology.”

For more information on the NSF GRFP and other fellowship opportunities, contact Smith at 941-487-5002 or

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in applied data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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