Human Development and Family Studies Student Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

September 22, 2008

Jessica Heckert, a student in the dual-degree M.S./Ph.D. program in human development and family studies and demography, is among nine Penn State students who were selected as National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellows for 2008-09. These students join 14 recipients already enrolled in the University's graduate degree programs. The NSF program supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees.

Heckert researches child poverty and its relationship to health and educational outcomes, as well as improvements that can be made through social policy. “The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program will enable me to devote more time to this research topic while broadening my understanding of it from different disciplinary perspectives,” she said.

Heckert earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Before beginning her graduate studies at Penn State, she served in the Peace Corps in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

According to the National Science Foundation's Web site, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program is "the oldest graduate fellowship program of its kind with a history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers…Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 along with a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, a one-time $1,000 travel allowance and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. or foreign institution of graduate education they choose."


Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at (814) 865-3831 or