Campus Life

UWF chemistry students recognized with fellowships, stipends from top graduate programs

Five senior chemistry students at the University of West Florida were recently awarded significant stipends and fellowships to continue their education at top chemistry Ph.D. programs across the country.

Jacob Stepherson was awarded a Board of Regents Fellowship, totaling $30,000 per year for up to four years, to attend Louisiana State University’s Ph.D. chemistry program. Stepherson was one of only two students to be selected for the honor, which is offered to exceptional applicants as a recruitment incentive to help them complete their Ph.D. in a timely fashion. He said his education at UWF has provided him with the skills and experience needed to excel at the Ph.D. level.

“My education at UWF has allowed me to be trained on many instruments and provided me with a great understanding of the different areas of chemistry,” he said. “I’ve loved my undergraduate research time, and have been able to experience three types of chemistry research. I credit this opportunity with my decision to go to graduate school.”

Tien Duong was accepted to the University of Maryland’s Medical Scientist Training Program, or MSTP, which covers the cost of graduate and medical school, totaling approximately $60,000 per year. Additionally, Duong will receive a $26,000 per year stipend, among other grants.

Each year, fewer than 10 students are accepted into the University of Maryland’s MSTP, which is a combined M.D./Ph.D. program that is funded by the National Institute of Health and offers broad biomedical training to aspiring physician scientists.

Duong credits UWF with preparing him for the next step in his education and career.

“The atmosphere at UWF is amazingly conducive to learning and innovation,” he said. “Professors urge scientific growth and my student peers push me and compete with me to stretch me to my limits. Because the Chemistry Department is small, there is an amazing number of opportunities available for students who are looking for them.”

Other students who received stipends and/or fellowships include:

  • Jamie Trindell, $2,500 first-year graduate student fellowship, $3,000 recruitment fellowship and $22,700 annual stipend to attend the graduate chemistry program at the University of Texas-Austin.
  • Tia Boucher, Huel Perkins Fellowship totaling $25,000 per year to attend the four-year Ph.D. program at LSU.
  • Oliver Vu, Dean’s Fellowship Award totaling more than $200,000 over four years to attend the Ph.D. program at the University of California-Riverside.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of all these students, who have represented UWF and the Department of Chemistry so well during their time here,” said Dr. Matthew Schwartz, acting chair of the UWF Department of Chemistry. “We have worked hard over the years as a Chemistry Department to maintain a high-performance program.  We are ecstatic that our students will continue to demonstrate the quality of UWF Chemistry at top-tier programs across the country.”

“We are proud of all nine chemistry students accepted into graduate programs this year and are elated that the majority of them received stipends/fellowships as recruitment incentives,” said Dr. Karen Molek, assistant professor for the UWF Chemistry Department. “These success stories continue to enhance UWF’s visibility and prove the quality of our chemistry program at the national level.”

For additional information about the UWF Department of Chemistry, visit