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News Release 18-022

NSF announces Graduate Research Fellowships for 2018

Honorees chosen from more than 12,000 applicants

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2017 Fellow Felix Santiago-Collazo conducts research by water

2017 NSF Fellow Felix Santiago-Collazo became fascinated by hydrologic modeling when he took a water resources class at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. “That class inspired me to want to model this most precious, but dangerous substance. Water is vital for life -- but it can take your life,” he says. “During a hurricane, the coast is inundated not only by rainfall, but also by storm surge; yet hydrologic models in use today do not combine both factors.” Santiago-Collazo was racing to finish his master’s thesis in Puerto Rico in order to begin his doctoral studies at Louisiana State University (LSU), when Hurricane Maria struck; the subsequent power failure nearly delayed his defense. He finished just in time to join his new program in Baton Rouge, where his current research project is based on ideas he developed as a master’s student. The first in his family to go to college, Santiago-Collazo participated in NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) programs. He is active in outreach to younger students and plans to return to Puerto Rico as a professor of engineering. His computational models will be used in flood prevention and forecasting tools, benefitting those who live in hurricane regions.

Credit: Walter Silva Araya, UPRM

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