With 19 out of 150 fellowships awarded — over an eighth of the total, more than any other university — UC Berkeley welcomes the lion’s share of students in energy studies across its college and departments who will be studying here for up to three years, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Each DOE graduate fellow will received $50,500 per year for tuition, living expenses, research materials and research travel, Part of the funding — $12.5 million — comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, popularly known as the stimulus.

The creation of the fellowships was announced last fall by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who earned his physics Ph.D. at Berkeley in 1976.

The goal of the fellowship program is to encourage outstanding students to pursue graduate degrees in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, and environmental and computer sciences — fields that will prepare students for careers that can make significant contributions in the discovery-driven science that’s critical to future U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness.

“The exceptionally talented students selected as graduate students are part of our nation’s next generation of scientific and technical leaders,” said Secretary Chu. “This investment in the training of scientists and engineers is part of the Administration’s continued effort to ensure that America has the scientific and engineering workforce we need to secure our energy future and our continued economic competitiveness.”

The first crop of DOE graduate fellows attending Berkeley consists of:

Genia Vogman (applied science and technology); Brandon Beberwyck (materials science and engineering); Brett Collins (mechanical engineering); Vidya Ganapati (electrical engineering and computer science); Steven Hall (environmental science policy and management); Iris Hood (molecular and cell biology); Stephan Hoyer (physics); Pauli Kehayia (physics); Karthish Manthiram (chemical engineering); Anna Mebust (chemistry); Michael Ramm (physics); Daniella Rempe (civil and environmental engineering); Christine Roche (chemical engineering); Adam Roddy (integrative biology); Nathaniel Roth (phycics); Daniel Shuldman (applied science and technology); Charles Sleasman (physics); Ericca Stamper (molecular and cell biology); Claire Thomas (physics).

The DOE Fellows fit nicely into Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s welcome message to the campus community for the fall term, under graduate education:

“Our new graduate students continue to be among the very best nationally and internationally. One hundred eighty-nine National Science Foundation Fellows have chosen Berkeley, the largest number at any university in the country. Also, of the 150 students just announced to receive graduate fellowships in Science, Mathematics and Engineering from the Department of Energy, 19 are at Berkeley, more than at any other institution. When these are joined by our Ford Fellows and Javits Fellows in the humanities, it is evident that we are attracting top graduate students in all disciplines who are coming to Berkeley to work with our distinguished faculty and earn their degrees from our world-class programs.”

DOE Fellows
DOE Fellows

Despite the advancing avoirdupois of the nation as a whole, this group of science and technology students keeps physical activity high in the range of what they do. The sports they have most in common are cycling and running, with golf, tennis, swimming, ice skating, competitive Frisbee, and salsa dancing scattered more randomly among them, and outdoor exertions like rock climbing, bouldering, hiking, and kayaking tending to accompany research interests in energy and climate. (Steven Hall, for instance, says he enjoys being outside as much as possible “and don’t mind being covered in soil from head to foot (the price of good data).” Nearly a third pursue serious interests in music; one, computational astrophysicist Nathan Roth has played piano since the age of six and has become something of an ultimate Berkeley insider by starting, in his first year of grad school, to learn a new instrument: the 61-bell carillon, high in the iconic Campanile.


Steven Chu
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (Ph.D. ’76), former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, during a visit to the Lab in October 2009, around the time he announced the new Department of Energy Fellowships. (Photo: flickr/berkeleylab)