Fellowship Recipients

We love to feature the success of McElroy Trust Fellowship recipients.
If you are a Fellowship recipient, we’d love to hear from you!
Please contact our office so we can share your story.

Alicia Rosburg, a 2006 Fellowship recipient, told us how her Ph.D. journey led her home.   alicia1 com“I am currently an assistant professor of economics at my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). My journey back “home” was both challenging and fulfilling. The financial assistance provided by the McElroy Fellowship was instrumental and allowed me to explore opportunities during graduate school that otherwise would not have been possible.

During my graduate studies at Iowa State University, I had the benefit of working on policy-relevant topics with top researchers in my fields (environmental and agricultural economics). My dissertation focused on the economics of cellulosic biofuel, or fuel produced from grass or crop residues (“biomass”). I have continued my research in this area and currently have research projects on the potential locations and sizes of biofuel production facilities, the economics of different biomass supply methods, and strategies to minimize biomass supply risk. In addition, I have begun to explore other areas in economics such as housing market determinants and the relationship between drug use and labor market outcomes.

Although I truly enjoy my research and the opportunity to be a life-time learner, teaching has always been a passion. My position at UNI has allowed me to cultivate this passion. I currently teach Principles of Microeconomics, Decision Techniques, and Environmental Economics. While I enjoy all my classes, Environmental Economics is special in that it allows me to incorporate my research into the classroom and to work on research projects with students. I look forward to many more years of sharing my passion for economics with UNI students.”

Dallas Wulf, a 2012 Luther College graduate and a current McElroy Trust Fellow, sent an update about his research:

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“My research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studies X-rays produced in the local galaxy as a means to understanding the environment of interstellar space.  Since these X-rays can’t penetrate very far through air, we use sounding rockets to get our X-ray detector above the atmosphere.

The picture is from our most recent rocket flight, at White Sands Missile Range (New Mexico) in November of 2013. I spent the preceding month working on-site with people from NASA’s sounding rocket program to prepare for the launch.  The seven of us pictured were in charge of the on-board X-ray detector.”

Great work Dallas!  Thanks for sharing your story.

Holly Stessman, a 2008 graduate of Clarke University and McElroy Fellowship recipient, just sent an update on life after earning her Ph.D.Holly Stessman

“After defending my thesis in March 2013 at the University of Minnesota, I moved on to a postdoctoral position at the University of Washington in Seattle.  I am currently working with Dr. Evan Eichler’s group within Genome Sciences screening for mutations in autism spectrum disorder.  By identifying genetic subtypes of autism, we hope to better understand how the disease differs from patient to patient and discover new treatment strategies for more personalized medicine approaches.  It has been exciting working with the latest and greatest sequencing technologies to identify mutations that are significantly contributing to human disease.”

Alice Obrecht, a 2004 graduate of Coe College, recently shared details of how she has used her Ph.D. to excel in a global role!
AO at Akosombo“I have used my PhD to pursue a career in the aid sector, in a research capacity. I am currently working as Senior Research Analyst at the Humanitarian Futures Programme, at King’s College, London. My role here is to work with organisations with humanitarian roles and responsibilities to improve their capacity to deal with new and evolving crisis drivers. In my primary function I oversee the FOREWARN Initiative, a 3.5 year project which seeks to build institutional capacities for disaster risk reduction across West Africa. As part of this initiative, I recently travelled to Akosombo Dam in Ghana to carry out research on cross-border water governance in the Volta River Basin (see photo).

My approach to issues of aid effectiveness, institutional accountability and poverty reduction is research-focused and analytical.  I would not have this perspective or these skills if it were not for my PhD, and my PhD would not have been economically viable for me without the generous support given to me by the McElroy Trust.”

Annie Bruns, a 2008 graduate of Luther College, just sent us a note about her research (Ahh-choo!) and her developing passion for story-telling!  How cool!

Annie Bruns Class photo
“I will be graduating with my PhD in Molecular Biology from Northwestern University this July.  My research focuses on the mammalian cellular response to RNA virus infection.  RNA viruses range from the pesky common cold, to influenza, to life-threatening HIV.  A family of proteins expressed in nearly all cells of our body have the ability to detect RNA viruses, serving as the first line of defense against infection.  Throughout my thesis research I characterized the mechanism by which two of these proteins work together to detect RNA viruses, ultimately warning the cell and neighboring cells that an invader has been spotted.  This allows the infected cell and neighbors to establish a powerful antiviral state, ultimately preventing the spread of the infection.

In addition to my research, I have had the opportunity to both teach and communicate science during my time at Northwestern.  These were invaluable experiences as I aspire to become an ambassador of science to the public, generating admiration and awe of science, nature, and the scientific method. I participated in various science outreach programs for underrepresented populations, including teaching biology in ESL high school classrooms, and mentoring middle school students during a summer science camp. I was also a contributing writer for Northwestern’s Helix web magazine, and created two episodes of my own original science podcast “Science and Awe.”

This past year I also had the opportunity to independently design and teach a new freshman seminar at Northwestern called Storytelling and Science. In this course, students learned the elements of powerful storytelling and applied them to contemporary scientific discourse.  The experience of teaching this course renewed my passion for science communication.  I will be attending a highly competitive science communication conference at Harvard this June, and plan to continue with a career in science communication after completing my PhD.

I am very grateful not only for the critical financial support provided by the McElroy Trust, but also for their belief in me.  That interview was the first time I shared my dream of becoming a “science ambassador” with essentially complete strangers, and their support helped me believe that what felt like only an idea in my mind could become an achievable and meaningful career. ”