Elizabethtown College Chemistry alumna Haley Young ’19 was recently awarded a fellowship with the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). Young is a current second-year graduate student at Penn State University and is conducting research in Chemistry-Chemical Synthesis.

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support, including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

“This fellowship is significant because it signifies that the reviewers (established scientists), believe I have the potential to make significant contributions to science and impact on the community, which makes me confident that I am pursuing a fulfilling career,” said Young.

Etown Professor of Chemistry Dr. James MacKay was Young’s academic advisor and taught her in six courses during her time at the College. He says Young was always a standout student.

“She was the top student in a strong chemistry cohort and among the top in her senior class,” said MacKay. “She was a member of multiple honor societies and was awarded most of the highest honors bestowed on chemistry students at our departmental awards banquet.”

Young is grateful for MacKay’s help both in the classroom and during the application process for graduate school. She says he always challenged her to do her best.

“As my academic advisor and professor in several classes, I always looked forward to our conversations,” said Young. “His recommendations helped me apply to several research experiences while I was at Etown, which exposed me to a lot of opportunities, all of which accumulated to give me the strong research foundation needed for graduate school.”

Young plans to continue researching at Penn State for the next three years and obtain her PhD in chemistry. Her current work focuses on grafting semiconducting polymers to the surfaces of Janus nanoparticles with the goal of synthesizing hybrid materials. She said the resources given to her through this fellowship will help her in her pursuit of internships and career paths in her later years as a graduate student.

MacKay says that hearing about the success of his former students is one of the best parts of his job.

“I’m proud of my accomplishments over the years, but nothing brightens my day more than to hear of exciting news about alumni doing amazing things,” said MacKay. “She worked hard to earn this, and it is well deserved.”