Two CBCB Graduate Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Apr 10, 2020

Two graduate students in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowships.

The fellowships, which offer a three-year annual stipend as well as a tuition allowance, are awarded to outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

Jason Fan and Nicholas Franzese are among the 2,000-plus students to receive the fellowship this year.

Both second-year doctoral students in computer science, they are advised by Max Leiserson, an assistant professor of computer science who has an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

“Jason and Nick are both very well deserving of this recognition,” Leiserson says. “Jason is an exceptionally versatile researcher, and a talented teacher and mentor. Nick is a deeply insightful and independent researcher, and a gifted writer.”

Fan, who graduated with an undergraduate degree in computer science and mathematics from Tufts University, is interested in developing algorithms to understand disease models and cancer with biological networks. Currently, he is researching algorithms that learn representations and make predictions across multiple biological networks from different species.

Franzese, who graduated with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and biology from Reed College, says his research interests are tied together by a common theme: modeling that aligns powerful computational methods with intuitive biological narratives. His current research applies probabilistic graphical models to cancer data.

“I’m happy to see our students honored with prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships that acknowledge their hard work in their research endeavors and in the classroom,” says Amitabh Varshney, professor and dean of UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

—Story by Melissa Brachfeld