Alyssa Paparella, a Hamburg resident and 2015 graduate of Wallkill Valley Regional High School, received a 2020 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
The highly competitive fellowship recognizes leaders in science and helps advance their careers. Paparella was one of 2,000 recipients chosen out of more than 10,000 applicants. As a Fellow, she joins the ranks of 42 Nobel Laureates and more than 450 National Academy of Sciences members.
Established in 1952, it is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind in National Science Foundation-supported STEM fields through research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in accredited institutions across the United States. Fellows are awarded a three-year annual stipend with a $140,000 monetary value. Another benefit is the opportunity for international research and professional development.
Fellowship criteria is based on two categories: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, which acknowledges a significant contribution to the community. As part of her application, Paparella proposed a study to understand how microtubule motors of opposite polarity are coordinated in order to move a cargo within a cell of a model organism, C.elegans.
For Broader Impacts, Paparella discussed her experience with outreach volunteer programs. She was a teaching assistant at Sarah Lawrence College, and led her school’s chapter of the American Chemical Society and STEMming Women. She discussed her role in science journalism, and as a program ambassador for Sarah Lawrence College. At the nonprofit GiGi’sPlayhouse, she worked with children ages 3 to 12 who have Down Syndrome to teach dance and American Sign Language.
Paparella graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2019 and is currently working as a cellular biology research assistant at the University of California, Davis.
She accepted a position at Baylor College of Medicine’s Cancer and Cellular Biology Program, where she will continue her scientific research.