Rachel D. Davidson ’19, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive a 2020 Cottrell Fellowship from Research Corporation for Science Advancement.
Davidson recently completed her fifth year of study as a member of Texas A&M chemist Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee’s laboratory focused on materials chemistry. She is one of 13 Cottrell Fellows who will be supported this year by more than $1.1 million in combined RCSA and National Science Foundation funding intended to help close the gap created by coronavirus-pandemic-related institutional hiring freezes that have delayed or derailed many newly minted Ph.D.s’ plans to start independent academic or research careers.
“Support from the NSF is a terrific vote of confidence in the work we’re doing to avoid losing a generation of scientists,” said RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer. “The partnership between federal funding and private philanthropy to promote workforce development in science has never been more important.”
In light of the unprecedented financial challenges facing institutions due to COVID-19, RCSA had asked its Cottrell Scholars community, which includes Banerjee, to identify critical needs in teaching and research and suggest ways private funding could help. After many expressed concerns about the immediate employment and careers of postdoctoral fellows working in their research groups, RCSA created the Cottrell Fellowships initiative, partnering with the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences in a broader quest to retain talented scientists and nurture the next generation of teacher-scholars.
“Career interruptions at the postdoctoral stage can be especially disruptive, especially for women and people from underrepresented groups,” said Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco. “Many may seek to leave academia entirely if the job market impedes their ability to advance in their careers.”
Each Cottrell Fellowship provides up to $75,000 toward salary, benefits and research-related expenses of one postdoctoral fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year and 2021 summer. The awards are made to the Cottrell Scholars sponsoring the postdoctoral fellows.
Davidson received a $50,000 grant toward her proposal, “Developing Design Rules for Accessing Metastable Solids through Global Exploration of Synthetic Landscapes.”
“Congratulations to Rachel on being awarded a Cottrell Fellowship,” Banerjee said. “We are grateful to RCSA and the NSF for their support at such a critical juncture in her career. She is a passionate young scientist who brings truly innovative and creative solutions to the most formidable of problems.”
Davidson earned her bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015 before coming to Texas A&M in fall 2015 to begin pursuing her Ph.D. in chemistry within the Banerjee group, where her work involves understanding safety concerns for next-generation batteries through investigations of dendritic growth in magnesium-based battery systems and in design of anode architectures which may mitigate that growth. She also works to develop composite coatings containing nanostructured additives for corrosion inhibition.
Learn more about the Cottrell Fellowship initiative, including the complete list of 2020 Cottrell Fellows.
To find addition information on the Banerjee group, go to https://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/banerjee/.
# # # # # # # # # #
About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $952 million in fiscal year 2019. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation’s most recent Higher Education Research and Development survey (2018), based on expenditures of more than $922 million in fiscal year 2018. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit [email protected] A&M.