YSU grad awarded prestigious NSF fellowship to seek PhD

Jenna Wise
Jenna Wise, who graduates at Youngstown State University’s Spring Commencement on Saturday, has been awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation that will finance her PhD studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh starting this fall.

Wise, a double major in Math and Computer Science, will be among more than 1,400 graduates expected to attend YSU commencement in Beeghly Center on campus. The commencement includes morning and afternoon ceremonies. Graduates in the Williamson College of Business Administration, Beeghly College of Education and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will participate in the ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Graduates in the College of Creative Arts and Communication, Bitonte College of Health and Human Services and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences will participate in the ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Wise, a daughter of Lee and Marlene Wise of Hubbard, receives a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 for tuition for up to five years, along with the opportunity for international research collaborations and federal internships. Her goal is to teach and do research on the university level.

Under the highly competitive NSF program, 2,000 recipients are chosen each year from a field of more than 13,000 applicants nationwide. Funds support students enrolled in graduate study that will lead to research-based graduate or doctoral degrees in Science or Engineering. This year’s recipients represent 449 undergraduate institutions.

Before going to Carnegie Mellon in the fall, Wise will serve a paid summer internship at the IBM Research Center in New York, her fourth internship in four years. Previously, she interned two summers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one at Clemson University in South Carolina.

“I’ve been doing internships every summer because there are so many things you can do in the field of computer science. I want to see what I like best,” she said. “My math and computer science professors were great about making me aware of the opportunities that were out there and how to apply.”

Wise has also been working closely with award-winning YSU Computer Science Professor Bonita Sharif, researching the use of eye-tracking technology as a way to improve software development. She reported on the research as part of her NSF Fellowship application and plans to continue the work at Carnegie Mellon.

Graduating with a 4.0 grade point average, Wise has received several awards and recognitions over her undergraduate career, including the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2016. She is a member of the YSU Honors College, the past president of Pi Mu Epsilon, an honorary mathematics student organization on campus, and current president of the Women's Association for Computing Machinery student organization.

Wise, whose mother graduated from YSU in 1981, said she is glad she chose YSU. “I considered bigger schools, but I don’t think I would have received such a great education or as many opportunities as I did at YSU,” she said. “It’s a small community that you can really feel a part of, and you’re not competing with thousands of other students for research opportunities.”