Joseph Lucey, 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Joseph2018 National Science Foundation
Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)

Joseph Lucey
Major: Civil Engineering

College/Graduation Year:
Engineering, Computer Science, & Technology, Class of 2018

Fellowship awarded:

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP)
This fellowship provides funding for up to 5 years (academic year and summer). Three of those years include $12,000 tuition and fees paid to the university and a $34,000 stipend. In addition to the award, there are other private opportunities only accessible to NSF fellows (i.e. international travel stipends, computing time, summer research opportunities, etc.).

What are your future career goals?

After graduating from Cal State LA in a few weeks, I will be starting my Ph.D. in Fall 2018 at UCLA, in their Hydrology and Water Resource Engineering program. After my Ph.D. I would like to continue doing hydrologic modeling at a lab or become a professor.

What motivated you to apply and what were some of the challenges?

My Cal State LA advisor, Dr. Lopez, was a previous NSF Fellow and she recommended that I apply. It is one of the most prestigious fellowships you can receive as a Ph.D., so I thought I might as well try. By far the hardest part of the application was developing a research proposal. I had two pages to organize, justify, and explain a potential project that you can do as a graduate student. You could not write a proposal to NSF without demonstrating how your current skillset will be used to accomplish the project. It was a lot to organize and succinctly justify.

How has this scholarship affected your career goals and ambitions?

This award, along with my two other graduate fellowships, made me realize I possess the ability to be a scientist and that other people believe in my potential. I want to see how far I can go, how much I can accomplish, and how many people I can help or inspire. This is just the beginning.

What is a cause you’re passionate about? Is this cause related to your career goals?

Mentoring is a huge passion of mine. Many people have helped me get to where I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Success isn’t a solo mission. It takes a community and a group of people to bring others up. I’d like to continue helping other students where I can until I establish my own position in a lab or university. From there, I would like to develop enrichment programs that can funnel students into similar opportunities I have taken advantage of.

What advice would you give to future applicants of this scholarship or any scholarship?

Do your homework! My application built upon my interest and research experience, so I had background knowledge of the subjects I wrote on. There was still information I needed such as: Who can I work with and where could I do this work? What literature supports this work? What knowledge gap would this work fill? How can I convey the need for this work? Most importantly, make sure you have a supportive advisor. Dr. Lopez guided me and proofread my essays so many times. This wouldn’t have been possible without her.

What would people be surprised to know about you?  



For more information on The NSF GRFP or for more application information, including Cal State LA campus assistance, contact the NISFeP office at