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Merit Criteria, Eligibility And Diversity In The Nsf Graduate Research Fellowships

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.718.1 - 6.718.9

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Janet Rutledge

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Eric Sheppard

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3555

Merit Criteria, Eligibility and Diversity in the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships*

Eric Sheppard, Janet Rutledge Division of Graduate Education National Science Foundation Arlington, VA

Jeffrey Johnson NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Operations Office Oak Ridge Associated Universities Oak Ridge, TN


For nearly fifty years, the National Science Foundation has awarded merit-based Graduate Research Fellowships to outstanding students who are early in their graduate studies in NSF-supported fields. This paper looks at three aspects of the program: the introduction of NSF’s two merit criteria, changes in eligibility guidelines, and diversity in the program. It then considers the impacts of some recent changes in the program. While the impacts are positive, considerable outreach is still needed.

I. Introduction

Since its first competition in 1952, the objective of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRF) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been to support the vitality of the human resource base of science, mathematics, and engineering in the United States and to reinforce its diversity.1,2. From 1978 to 1999, the Minority Graduate Research Fellowship competition (MGF) was also administered. The GRF program application and review processes are managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) under contract from NSF3.

Periodically, policy reviews are conducted to evaluate how well the program supports its objective. This paper considers four changes that benefit both the quality and diversity of the applicant pool. The first change was to provide additional funding to encourage participation by women in the engineering and computer science fields, resulting in the Women in Engineering and Computer and Information Science (WECS) component of GRFP. The second change we consider is the introduction of the new NSF Merit Review Criteria that address both intellectual merit and broader impact. This has changed the very basis on which panelists view scholarship and the measures thereof. The third

(*Any views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Science Board or the National Science Foundation)

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Johnson, J., & Rutledge, J., & Sheppard, E. (2001, June), Merit Criteria, Eligibility And Diversity In The Nsf Graduate Research Fellowships Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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