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Workshops and peer review sessions for applicants to the 2024 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Posted by on Friday, August 11, 2023 in Upcoming BRET Office of Career Development Events, Workshops and Seminars .

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is a prestigious fellowship opportunity for early-stage STEM graduate students, including PhD students in the biosciences. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Fellowships provide 3 years of funding for graduate education in a STEM field, and PhD students must apply no later than fall of the second year in their PhD program.

In August and September, the ASPIRE Biomedical Scientists’ Toolkit series is holding two informational workshops about the NSF GRFP funding opportunity and facilitating a peer review of draft application essays by previous GRFP Winners or Honorable Mentions for biosciences PhD students who plan to apply this fall for the 2024 NSF GRFP. Attendance at the informational workshops (either this year or in 2022) is required for applicants to participate in the peer review process.

P.S. If you missed the workshops, you can still take advantage of the compendium of NSF GRFP resources we’ve compiled on the ASPIRE Funding Resources website, to help support you in your application. This includes examples of successful NSF GRFP applications donated by previous VU fellows that are available to view in the ASPIRE Grant Repository.

Workshop #1 – Overview of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

Tuesday, August 15, 3:30-4:30p, 202 Light Hall

Advance registration requested here

In this session, NSF Graduate Research Fellow Kathleen McClanahan will give an overview of the NSF GRFP and strategies for developing a competitive application, followed by a Q&A panel with recent GRFP award recipients from life science-related disciplines. Topics will include eligibility criteria, the application process, how to decide when to apply and which “field of study” to choose, writing a compelling personal statements and research plan, and Vanderbilt and other resources for becoming a competitive applicant and writing your application. This event is part of the ASPIRE Biomedical Scientists’ Toolkit series, and moderated by Dr. Steph Richards, Assistant Director of Recruiting for the IGP and QCB. All interested graduate students are welcome. Advance registration is requested.


Workshop #2 – Writing the NSF GRFP Personal Statement and Graduate Research Plan

Monday, September 11, 4:00-5:30p; 407A-D Light Hall

Advance registration requested here

This workshop will consist of a ~30-minute presentation about grant writing by NSF Graduate Research Fellow Andreanna Burman, with a particular focus on the requirements for the NSF GRFP Personal Statement and Research Plan essays. Following the presentation, participants will break into small groups for Q&A sessions with VU graduate students from the life sciences who are previous Winners/Honorable Mentions. Prospective NSF GRFP applicants are encouraged (but not required) to bring their personal statement and research plan to the small group Q&A, to seek advice specific to their application. This event part of the ASPIRE Biomedical Scientists’ Toolkit series.


Peer Review of 2024 NSF GRFP Applications

Conducted mid-September to early October

Sign-up required at

Vanderbilt applicants for the 2024 NSF GRFP program will be paired with a previous NSF GRFP Winner or Honorable Mention to receive written feedback on their draft personal statement and/or research plan essay.

To participate in the peer review process facilitated by ASPIRE, we ask that 2024 applicants:

  • attend Workshop #1 and/or Workshop #2; attendance in 2022 or 2023 is acceptable.
  • be enrolled in a BRET-affiliated PhD program, including the IGP or QCB (but not MSTP; see list of BRET-affiliated programs here)
  • submit only advanced drafts of their essay(s) for peer review.

Fill out this form to request a peer review. Peer reviewers will be assigned on a rolling basis beginning September 12. The last day to fill out the form to request peer review is September 26 at 12pm. The last day to send your essays to your assigned peer reviewer is September 29 at 5pm.  Peer reviewers will return comments to you no later than October 9 so that you have time to incorporate their feedback before the 2024 NSF GRFP application deadlines.