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2015 Fellowships Mentoring Award

June 10, 2015

Congratulations to 2015 Fellowships Mentoring Award recipient, Dr. Kara Spiller! 

With this new award, we seek to recognize the considerable effort and critical role of a faculty member who consistently goes the extra mile to cultivate, prepare, and guide students in their applications to nationally-competitive fellowships.

2015 Awardee: Kara Spiller, Assistant Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering & Health Sciences

Student Fellowships: NSF GRFP, NSF IRES (China), NSF DDEP; Fulbright US Student Program (Portugal)

Faculty Grants: NSF, NIH, Coulter Foundation, Industry

As a doctoral student at Drexel, Kara received student awards from both NSF and Fulbright. She says, "The only reason I applied to these fellowships are because my mentors encouraged me to, and I'm sure that is the case for many of my own students now." Indeed, she is a one-woman outreach team, recommending fellowships for outstanding students wherever she may meet them (including on the volleyball court!).

Dr. Spiller wants students in her lab to have an international experience in order to develop their professional networks, but also because she strongly believes it's a great way for them to grow as human beings. In just the three years that she's been a member of the biomedical engineering faculty, eight students from her lab have received national or international awards (including two Whitaker awards and one NSF GRFP) and another six applied but were not selected. Eleven have received internal awards. She has helped an additional six students (outside of her lab) receive the Fulbright or Whitaker awards.

Every year, Dr. Spiller also participates actively in campus-wide activities that directly and indirectly serve the broader 'cause' of fellowships: campus evaluation committees, outreach events, career development and mentoring activities.

As to why she puts in so much effort to help students, she says "Applying for fellowships helps students learn to come up with their own ideas for the first time, respond to criticism, and set their own deadlines to achieve their own goals … Having students apply for and win fellowships makes Drexel better, one student at a time."

The Drexel Fellowships Office appreciates the myriad ways faculty nurture and support students day in and day out, all year long. This support is critical, as we know that students consider applying for competitive fellowships because you, the faculty, stoke their fires of intellectual ambition, or perhaps you light those fires for them for the first time. Learn more about how you can help the Fellowships Office encourage and support students in their application for nationally-competitive awards.