A scholarship reserved for some of the nation’s brightest and most talented college students in STEM is going to Annika M. DeVol, a rising Clemson University senior who has extensive research experience.
DeVol, who is majoring in materials science and engineering and minoring in chemistry, is among 68 students from 46 universities across the nation to win an Astronaut Scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Each scholarship is valued at $15,000, and Astronaut Scholars have the chance to become part of a community that includes the program’s alumni and astronauts as well as leaders in academia, technical research and industry.
“It is an incredible honor to win the scholarship and be welcomed into the community of scholars,” DeVol said. “Winning the scholarship has given me a lot of encouragement– it is inspiring to have my work recognized at a national level.”
DeVol grew up in the Clemson area and decided to stay for college because of the University’s strong engineering program and the city’s small-town feel with hiking and a thriving bigger city, Greenville, just a short drive away.
DeVol decided to pursue materials science and engineering because of her interest in solving problems associated with the environmental impact of traditional plastics. The field has allowed DeVol to focus her love of math and chemistry on making a positive impact in the world.
In materials science and engineering, students learn to design, develop and produce advanced materials that affect virtually every aspect of the modern world, ranging from optical fiber and lightweight automotive components to materials that help store nuclear waste and advance fusion energy. (Learn more about materials science and engineering at Clemson here.)
“For me, it is the perfect mix of math, chemistry, physics and engineering to solve real-world problems,” DeVol said.
DeVol is a research intern this summer at Kyocera AVX in Fountain Inn, where her work focuses on barium titanate for use in multi-layer ceramic capacitors.
During the summer of 2022, DeVol was a U.S. Department of Energy Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) participant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). At ORNL, she benefited from the mentorship of Beth Armstrong, a senior research and development staff member, while researching the additive manufacturing of high temperature ceramic components.
At Clemson, DeVol has helped conduct award-winning research into sustainable polyurethane foam with James Sternberg, a senior scientist at the Clemson Composites Center, and Srikanth Pilla, who is founding director of the center and the ExxonMobil Employees Endowed Chair in the Department of Automotive Engineering.
“I would place Annika in the top 1% of students I have worked with– she surpassed any standards of work that are typical of her level of training,” Sternberg said. “Annika is an independent thinker and understands the big idea behind the work she does. This enables her to see deeply into the problem she is working on and even foresee problems that may arise. She is a collaborative worker who makes the most of her environment with positive interactions.”
After her summer internship, DeVol will return to conduct research with Rajendra Bordia, who is the George J. Bishop, III Endowed Chair in Ceramic and Materials Engineering. The research is focused on polymer-to-ceramic conversion for fabrication of silicon carbide joints for use at high temperatures.
DeVol has worked hard outside the classroom and lab, too. She is the president of Clemson’s Material Advantage student chapter, a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and a member of the Clemson Equestrian Team.
Her awards include the Robert Bendheim Honor Award for the most outstanding junior in materials science and engineering at Clemson and the Robert Knight Eaton Award for the most outstanding sophomore in the same discipline at Clemson.
DeVol plans to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering after receiving a Bachelor of Science from Clemson. She is interested in a career conducting research at a national lab to improve materials’ sustainability and performance in extreme conditions.
“Receiving the Astronaut Scholarship has solidified my decision to pursue a graduate degree,” she said. “This recognition has given me that confidence.”
For more information: Students interested in the Astronaut Scholarship or other nationally competitive programs should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at 864-656-9704 or email@example.com.
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