College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Chemical engineering grad student, Abigail Koep, awarded Graduate Research Fellowship from prestigious NSF program

Image of Abigail Koep working in the lab.
Abigail Koep, ISU chemical engineering Ph.D. student, and NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

Chemical engineering grad student, Abigail Koep, has been named a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Koep, a graduate of Iowa State University (ISU) who received her B.S. in 2020, grew up in rural Minnesota with limited exposure to science-related careers. She entered the chemical and biological engineering Ph.D. program in 2022 and is one of only three ISU students to receive the illustrious Graduate Research Fellowship this year.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics 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.

The fellowship will fund Koep’s education and contribute to her research at the laboratory of associate professor Ian Schneider. As Koep explains, she is researching how to make a “drug delivery vehicle using DNA origami, which is the art of folding a long DNA sequence into whatever kind of shape you want.” Research in this area could help create targeted, non-invasive drug delivery systems for cancer medications.

The NSF typically receives more than 13,000 nominations for the fellowship and grants it to around 2,000 applicants. Past recipients of the fellowship include numerous Nobel Prize winners, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.