Geology/Math student Alice Martin receives prestigious NSF graduate research fellowship

Alice Martin, awarded a five-year NSF research fellowship with three years of $34,000 annual stipend, has been accepted to the University of Minnesota to pursue her doctorate in geology.

By Susan Enright

Two students stand in front of poster presentation on Leveling Survey of Koae Fault System After the 2018 Kilauea Eruption.
Alice Martin (left) with fellow student at poster presentation on her ongoing ongoing project measuring fault motion across the Koa‘e Fault System. September 2019. Courtesy photo, click to enlarge.

A student at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has received a highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Alice Martin, majoring in geology and mathematics, will be attending the University of Minnesota to pursue her doctorate in geology.

The NSF fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

“Being awarded this fellowship feels like a giant recognition of all of the hard work and growth over the last five years, a huge happy ending to this chapter and at the same time an exciting beginning to a new chapter in life,” says Martin. “In a more academic and maybe less emotional way, it means that I can go into grad school and give my full focus and energy to my studies and research which is pretty spectacular. It’s a huge honor and I am unbelievably grateful.”

Martin grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and graduated high school from an environmental charter school called River’s Edge Academy where she was part of the very first graduating class. She arrived at UH Hilo five years ago.

The budding scholar’s research at UH Hilo is focused on analyzing bulk density and vesicularity of tephra from the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea. She is mentored in this work by Carolyn Parcheta, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

She also is part of an ongoing project involving measuring fault motion across the Koa‘e Fault System with Steve Lundblad, a professor of geology at UH Hilo.

Student working on bench with rock samples.
UH Hilo geology major Alice Martin wraps tephra samples from Fissure 8 for density measurements, April 2019 at the UH Hilo geology lab. Courtesy photo.

Martin credits the UH Hilo geology and mathematics departments with giving her the opportunities she needed to boost her academic career.

“I would not be in this position now if it were not for the faculty in the geology and mathematics departments here at UH Hilo,” she says. “I would have been lost as an undergraduate at a large university. I came in with a lot of uncertainty in myself, but because of the genuine support and encouragement I got from my professors, in addition to all of the amazing things that they have taught me about rocks, numbers, and so much more, I will be leaving with strength and confidence in myself and my future.”


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.