Patsy Granted NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

news story image

Senior Marisa Patsy is the Fischell Department of Bioengineering’s (BIOE) newest National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship recipient.  

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) was established to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or in STEM education.It is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind and includes a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, and professional development opportunities.

Patsy is an undergraduate researcher in BIOE Chair John Fisher’s Tissue Engineering & Biomaterials Laboratory, where she investigates the effects of cell co-culture and growth factors on the specification of endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) for vascular tissue engineering.She was introduced to Fisher’s lab as a high schooler, when she shadowed a researcher in the lab as a part of a Glenelg High School mentorship program. “I developed my NSF GRFP proposal based on my work in the lab, and described a dynamic 3D co-culture model for understanding EPC specification,” explains Patsy. 

The GRFP recipient also has a passion for service and education. She volunteered first as a BIOE Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, and now as a Keystone Program Teaching Fellow for Engineering Sciences: Mechanics I (ENES 102), a course taken by all engineering majors. “It’s been a great experience to be able to assist and work with students of every discipline. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of these students and watch them grow throughout academic years. I just recently started working as a Supplemental Instruction Leader with the Academic Achievement Programs on campus, and I get to work with students outside of the engineering school entirely. I love helping students with classes and lessons, and I’ve had great opportunities to make a difference across campus.” 

This fall, Patsy will begin a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. With the help of NSF GRFP funding, she will begin her doctoral research in Dr. Bursac’s Lab group, which studies cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering therapies, differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into striated muscle cells, and electrophysiology of excitable cells and tissues.

“I’m really excited to be able to work with so many talented researchers and scientists in the pursuit of developing tissue-engineered therapies for cardiac and skeletal muscle,” says Patsy.

Published April 27, 2021