Incoming Biology Student Awarded NSF Fellowship

Photo of Graduate Center student Erica Johnson standing outsideErica Johnson will begin her doctoral studies at The Graduate Center this fall with a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. She will enter the biology department, specializing in the program on Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEB).

These awards recognize students who have potential to make significant contributions to research, teaching and innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Launched shortly after Congress established the NSF in 1951, the fellowships represent the nation's oldest continuous support of STEM research in the United States. Johnson is the second doctoral student in biology to receive the NSF Fellowship this year. She joins Mary Regis Shanley, who studies neuroscience.

Johnson’s research focuses on the ways parasite-host interactions are shaped by environmental conditions, such as climate, and how these conditions influence the geographic distribution of parasites. She will work in the lab of Professor Robert P. Anderson (GC/CCNY, Biology) and will pursue her field work on rodents in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico.

Johnson completed her undergraduate degree or Licenciate in biology at Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. She learned about The Graduate Center over the last few years while attending meetings on species distribution modeling at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The meetings offered her the chance to get to know both faculty and students at The Graduate Center. She said that, “This allowed me to identify people with similar research interests and establish professional relationships.” The Graduate Center’s position at the heart of CUNY’s integrated network of campuses also offered her unique opportunities. She added, “It provides a vast array of resources for Ph.D. students, which I find particularly appealing.”

The NSF grant provides $34,000 a year for three years, along with a tuition allowance of $12,000 a year. Notable prior recipients include Google founder Sergey Brin, Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt, and 42 Nobel Prize winners, such as former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Johnson admitted that she was shocked when she opened her award letter, but said that, “after confirming that I had understood correctly, I was overjoyed and quite proud of this accomplishment.”

Submitted on: JUN 12, 2018

Category: Biology | General GC News | Student News