University of North Texas Scholar receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Posted by on Friday, February 5, 2010 0:11 - 0 Comments

Afshan Kamrudin, a senior psychology major at the University of North Texas

Afshan Kamrudin, a senior psychology major at the University of North Texas

Afshan Kamrudin, a senior psychology major at the University of North Texas, has a received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to prepare for a career as a researcher in behavioral health.

The Graduate Research Fellowships are given to students who plan to earn research-focused master’s and doctoral degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Each student receives a three-year stipend of $30,000, plus $10,500 each year as a cost of education allowance. The students may also receive supplements for travel and computing.

More than 900 students at U.S. colleges and universities are awarded the fellowships each year. Kamrudin, the daughter of Ahmad and Ashraf Kamrudin of Carrollton and a 2005 graduate of Carrolton’s Creekview High School, is among 31 students from Texas colleges and universities who received a fellowship this year.

Kamrudin is a student in UNT’s Honors College, majoring in psychology and minoring in international studies. She plans to use her fellowship to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in behavioral sciences.

“Afshan is an extraordinarily talented young woman whose dedication to research has been evident throughout her undergraduate career. We are very proud that she has been selected for this prestigious award,” said Dr. Gloria Cox, dean of the Honors College.

While at UNT, Kamrudin has been a student in the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, a federally funded program that prepares undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college, are from low-income families or members of racial minority groups to pursue doctoral study. McNair Scholars conduct research with UNT faculty members, and often present their research findings at professional conferences. They also undergo intense preparation for graduate school.

Dr. Diana Elrod, McNair Program director, called Kamrudin “an excellent representative of the UNT McNair program.”

“She has a strong desire to have her questions answered and will not rest until she has learned all that is necessary to make a difference in this world. I am convinced her contributions to society will be significant and valuable,” she said.

Kamrudin and her McNair mentor, Dr. Mark Vosvick, director of UNT’s Center for Psychosocial Health, have researched people living with HIV and their quality of life. Although she has always been interested in public health, Kamrudin said conducting research in the center made her more aware of the complexity of the disease, “especially in terms of how psychologists help people already living with HIV or AIDS.”

“I am really interested in the effects of HIV and took the opportunity to immerse myself into understanding the psychosocial issues of HIV and AIDS,” she said. “Many public health issues center around HIV and AIDS in terms of epidemiology and prevalence, but don’t focus on the behavioral aspects as much.”

Her research isn’t limited to this area, however. Kamrudin will spend three months in Geneva, Switzerland, just after she graduates from UNT to study the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative. Established in 1998, the initiative focuses international attention, resources and action on disease and deaths caused by tobacco.

Kamrudin received a Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health to go to Geneva, in a program sponsored by Pennsylvania State University. She was one of only nine undergraduate students selected for the program, which is targeted to students interested in pursuing graduate studies in public health or behavioral health. Kamrudin will receive transportation expenses to and from Geneva and living expenses for three months, plus a stipend of $800 each month.

She also participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program sponsored by the UNT Department of Anthropology. The summer program provides students with five weeks of intensive instruction in research methodology, theory, data collection and interpretation, critical thinking and writing and other research skills, followed by five weeks of work on an individual research project with a faculty mentor. Kamrudin used a social cultural approach to researching perceptions of stigma among HIV positive women.

In addition, Kamrudin studied the barriers to healthcare among the immigrant Vietnamese population seeking to use the John Peter Smith Health Network in Fort Worth for her Honors College thesis. She worked with Dr. Susan Brown Eve, associate dean of the Honors College.

She has presented her research at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

At UNT, Kamrudin has been a tutor for the Student Support Services-Discovery program, teaching students from low-income or minority backgrounds who are the first in their families to attend college, and a supplemental instructor for the UNT Learning Center, helping students who are enrolled in remedial math classes. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society for overall academic excellence and Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society, and recently received a $2,000 Phi Kappa Phi Award of Excellence for her first year of graduate school.

Kamrudin also serves on the Department of Psychology undergraduate faculty-student committee and is involved with the Honors College Honors Council as chair of academic affairs.

Article originally posted at UNT News Service.

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