For the next three years, Allison Moreno won't have to worry about how she will pay for graduate school.

UROC logoThe Cal State Monterey Bay senior has received a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Moreno and alumnae Melissa Powell and Sarah Kelly were awarded the fellowships, which support students in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields. All will receive $32,000 a year for three years and a $36,000 cost-of-education allowance to their universities.

They participated in rigorous research and scholarship while at CSUMB through the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center or UROC. They won research awards, published their findings and presented their research at professional conferences.

Thirteen CSUMB students and alumni have earned NSF graduate fellowships since UROC was established.

Allison MorenoMoreno (at left), who was mentored by Dr. Arlene Haffa, will graduate in May with a major in marine science and minors in biology and math. She will pursue a Ph.D. in Earth System Science at UC Irvine, where she will study biogeochemistry, specifically nutrient cycling.

Powell, a psychology major and 2013 graduate of CSUMB, is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in STEM education at the University of California, Irvine. Kelly, who majored in environmental science, technology and policy before graduating in 2012, is studying for a Ph.D. in fluvial geomorphology at Utah State University.

“The National Science Foundation received over 14,000 applications and awarded only 2,000 fellowships nationwide,” said Dr. William Head, director of UROC. “This is NSF’s most prestigious fellowship.”

Past recipients of the fellowship have included Nobel Prize winners, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and author Steven Levitt.

UROC was established in 2009, and since then it has earned a national reputation for excellence, achievement and leadership. Moreno is an example of how it benefits students.

"UROC has helped me to articulate my research interests in a way that others can see my passion and focus," she said. UROC introduced her to the NSF program and helped with the application process.

"And the UROC research seminar courses helped me to grow as an individual, researcher and scholar," she said.