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The Eberly College of Science

Science Achievement Graduate Fellowship


The Penn State Eberly College of Science has selected seven graduate students as Science Achievement Graduate Fellows for 2022–2023. These scholarships are awarded each year to outstanding graduate students seeking a doctoral degree in each of the college’s seven departments who are interested in the advancement of women in the sciences and related fields. The scholarships were established in 2018 to recognize students who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are role models for other students in the college. Each scholarship is named in honor of an outstanding woman scientist or mathematician who not only made groundbreaking discoveries but also blazed the trial for others who have followed in their footsteps. Fellows in the program will host two distinguished lectures each year in the college, in honor of the women for whom the scholarships are named.

Recipients of the 2022–2023 scholarships:

Niana Mohammed, a graduate student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, is interested in studying quasars, black hole binary systems, and active galactic nuclei in general. She enjoys discussions around the inclusion of underrepresented and underserved groups in STEM and helping however she can to take steps that will ensure a diverse STEM. Niana received her bachelor’s degree in physics with specialization in astrophysics from the University of California, San Diego, and her master’s degree in physics from Fisk University (Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program).

Winter Parts.

Winter Parts (they/them) is a third-year Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, working toward a dual-title Ph.D. in astrobiology. They study exoplanets through the radial velocity detection method, and their research is primarily focused on improving radial velocity measurements by accounting for stellar magnetic activity. They are also involved in the astronomy department’s climate and diversity committee, where they work to create a healthy environment for all department members through initiatives like undergraduate town halls, the department Halloween party, and the creation of a department code of conduct.

Mei-Ling Liber.

Mei-Ling Liber grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, and served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for eight years prior to gaining her interest in science. She is a first-generation graduate student in Moriah Szpara’s lab in the biology department, where she is investigating the linkages between naturally occurring genetic variations of clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and their virulence phenotypes. Her research aims to learn more about the viral genes that are associated with more virulent phenotypes in a variety of host genetic backgrounds. Identifying genes that promote virulence can be important in developing useful tools for clinical diagnostic screenings or for future therapeutic development. In her free time, Mei-Ling enjoys climbing really, really tall mountains, playing with her dog Bruno, and playing tabletop role-playing games and board games.

Maia Pappadakis.

Maia Pappadakis, a first-year graduate student in the Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology program, is exploring many fields of research in her rotations, including metabolism and cellulose biosynthesis. Maia completed a bachelor’s degree with honors in biochemistry and math at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and her previous research includes HIV immunology and antibiotic properties of soil bacteria. She is interested in contributing to the development of women in STEM and graduate programs through Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) and other programs.

Arianna Ragusa for the 2022-2023 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows.

Arianna Ragusa is a graduate student in chemistry and is interested in inorganic and biochemistry. She graduated with a B.S. with honors in chemistry, as well as a minor in forensics, from St. John’s University in Queens, New York. She began research in the summer of 2021 by participating in a research experience for undergraduates (REU) program at Clemson University, where she studied halogen bonding of organoiodines and sulfur/selenium containing compounds using X-ray crystallography. Arianna’s experience in that program helped contribute to the publication of a few papers. Now she looks forward to expanding her experience and knowledge here at Penn State and to contributing her own part to the department!

Annie Wang.

Annie Wang, a graduate student in physics, is interested in surface/interface studies of quantum materials. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and her bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Rochester. During her undergraduate studies, Annie performed shock wave compression research and laser ablation work at the Institute for Shock Physics. She hopes to encourage and inspire others to pursue experimental physics research through her work.