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Lander science graduate wins prestigious federal fellowship

January 09, 2009
Alexandra Foguth
Alexandra Foguth
Lander University graduate Alexandra Foguth has found herself in select company as she pursues a doctoral degree in material science and engineering at Clemson University.

Foguth is one of only 30 students in that discipline anywhere in the United States selected to receive a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The fellowship includes a $30,000-a-year stipend and $10,000 a year in tuition assistance for a three-year total of $120,000.

The Lake Wylie native was surprised to have been selected for the prestigious fellowship because the application process is very competitive.

She said, "My extracurricular activities at Lander may have tipped the scales in my favor because applicants are judged on the basis of their experience as volunteers as well as their academic achievements."

Foguth graduated with honors from Lander in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. She served as president of Lander's American Chemical Society (ACS) chapter for two years. She was a resident assistant for three years, a peer tutor, and a counselor in the Fuji Summer Science and Mathematics Enrichment program hosted by Lander. Foguth also took part in chemistry education programs for youth in the Greenwood area.

During her senior year at Lander, Foguth commuted to Clemson twice a week to complete undergraduate research necessary so she could graduate with honors. The subject of her postgraduate research is polymers and their commercial application.

Why did she decide on a career in chemistry and research? She said she completed an advanced science program at Clover High School in Lake Wylie and added, "I was good at chemistry and enjoyed it."

Foguth, who expects to complete her doctoral studies in 2011, said she was attracted to Lander by the university's science program and its small campus environment.

"Lander's science faculty members were all outstanding mentors, always available to meet with students to discuss opportunities." She added, "Not only were they interested in us academically but personally as well."

Dr. Lynn Deanhardt, professor of analytical chemistry at Lander, had Foguth as a student in several of his classes and is not surprised she was among the select few chosen for the federal grant. He described her as "one of the best students we have ever had."

According to Dr. Ralph Layland, co-adviser to Lander's ACS chapter, under Foguth's leadership the chapter was one of 30 nationwide recognized by the national organization for outstanding performance.

Layland, who is also chair of the physical sciences department and associate professor of inorganic chemistry, said Foguth was very involved in the chapter's community service projects.

The National Science Foundation is a federal agency that provides financial support to all fields of fundamental science and engineering except the medical sciences. It funds about 20 percent of all federally supported research at colleges and universities in the U.S.