Rios plans to study quantum mechanics and renewable energy, specifically hydrogen production, in the physical chemistry department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In his personal statement submitted as part of the NSF fellowship application, Rios pointed to a course at Warren Wilson that sparked a strong interest in alternative fuels research.
“In Analytical Chemistry class, I had an epiphany while studying climatic tipping points: I realized I could combine my passions by using chemistry to understand and address climate change,” he wrote. He later applied for and received a summer research position at the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC).
Regarding the NSF fellowship, Rios credited Warren Wilson’s learning Triad of academics, work and service for giving his application a boost.
“I think that many of the values held by the NSF are supported by our Triad,” he said.
The NSF program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines supported by the NSF. Graduate research fellows receive three years of support, including a $30,000 annual stipend; a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance to the institution (expected to rise to $12,000 for 2012); international research and professional development opportunities; and supercomputer access.