Stockham, Ovalle earn NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

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Stockham, Ovalle earn NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Color portraits of Sophia Stockham and Xavier Ovalle on a red campus background
Sophia Stockham and Xavier Ovalle

Two University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate students have been offered 2024 Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.

The program, the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, 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 U.S. institutions. The fellowship provides the student with a $37,000 stipend and $12,000 cost of education allowance for each of three years, as well as access to opportunities for professional development.

The university’s 2024 award recipients are below.

Sophia Stockham, of Wauseon, Ohio, is pursuing a doctoral degree in political science under the guidance of Alice Kang. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from Bowling Green State University. Her research interests lie in human rights, with a focus on women’s representation. Stockham received the NSF funding to support her work on the passage of informed consent laws for pelvic exams. She is passionate about advocating for greater representation of women in government and health care policy.

Xavier Ovalle (he/they) is a master’s student in the Hebets Lab in the School of Biological Sciences, under the mentorship of Eileen Hebets. He was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and is a first-generation American and college graduate. They earned their bachelor’s degree in biology at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Ovalle has researched different invertebrate groups, most prominently the semi-aquatic spider Trechalea extensa in Costa Rica. He tracked the spiders to map their home ranges and investigate their sensitivity to stimuli due to ecotourism. At Nebraska, they are interested in quantifying and understanding the associated associated costs and benefits of the color-changing process in the crab spider Misumenoides formosipes. Ovalle will use the NSF funding to continue this research.

Zeenat Ahmed, a doctoral student in political science, received an honorable mention.

At Nebraska, the Office of Graduate Studies is available to help graduate students preparing fellowship applications. For more information, students and faculty may contact Lisa Rohde at

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