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ARCS Scholar Stelling Honored with NSF Fellowship

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2023

Katie Stelling has been awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship that provides graduate students with three years of funding over five years. The fellowship is awarded directly to the recipient so they can independently fund their own PhD, rather than being tied to funding from a specific grant/project led by an advisor or Principal Investigator (PI).

Stelling is a second-year ARCS scholar at Oregon State University, in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences. She applied for the grant in October 2022 and was not expecting to get it since so few people do. “It has been such an honor,” Stelling says. “It likely won’t change my research too much since I’m still really interested in working on the deglacial history of Baffin Bay, but I may also have the opportunity to tie in other research on the deglaciation of the Pacific Northwest.”

She spent part of this summer aboard a research vessel in Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland. They sailed up the coast of Greenland to take sediment cores from regions where the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet extended past the continental shelf during the Last Glacial Maximum -- about 20 thousand years ago. “It has been a wonderful experience getting to take the samples I’ll be working on for my PhD, while fully immersing myself in discussion about the oceanographic and geologic history of the area,” Stelling says. Her primary role on the ship was “to image the sediment cores on a CT scanner (like the one you’d find in a hospital) so we can image the structures and density changes within them before they’re split open,” she explains.

“My advisor runs a group that facilitates most marine sediment coring on U.S. university ships. She just got a mobile system that we can take to sea. It is changing the way we do our science.”

Adding to the enrichment of the research work, ARCS Oregon scholar alum Brendan Reilly was one of the lead scientists on the cruise. Reilly is currently working at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and runs their marine sediment sample repository.

Stelling says she met Reilly three years ago and “we’ve been working together a bit ever since. I just asked him to be on my committee and I’m looking forward to working with him more over the coming years,” she says.

Stelling’s ARCS award is funded by Jamie and Mike Anderson.