The Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB) is launching a new fellowship program for STEM Master’s students enrolled at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) or emerging MSIs* who have a strong interest in conducting research and pursuing a PhD upon graduation. The goal of this fellowship program is to increase the number of students with diverse lived experiences and perspectives pursuing graduate degrees in STEM-related fields. Additionally, we hope to build stronger relationships with MSI institutions and faculty through collaborative research projects. 

Accepted fellows will conduct a collaborative thesis project with faculty from their home institution and the CEMB. In the summer after their first year, fellows will conduct research in the CEMB collaborator’s lab, and then continue their work during the second year of their masters program. The program will also offer monthly mentoring and networking opportunities to prepare fellows for research, grad school applications, and the PhD path. 

Areas of research

The Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB) is a multi-institution Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance the study of mechanical forces in molecules, cells, and tissues in plants and animals. With over 30 faculty across eight institutions, research areas include: 

  • Plant and animal mechanics
  • Organ-on-a-chip technology
  • Biomaterials
  • Matrix Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Mechanobiology of biomolecules
  • Mechanobiology of the nucleus
  • Tissue engineering

Fellowship Support

For the duration of the 1-year fellowship program, awardees will be provided with:

  • A stipend of approximately $31,600/year beginning the summer after your first year. 
  • Up to $5000 for research supplies to conduct research at your home institution
  • Up to $4000 for travel and housing to conduct summer research at a CEMB 
  • Up to $1000 for travel and housing to present your research at a national conference

Eligibility Criteria

Students that meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:

  • Be currently enrolled or intend to enroll starting spring or fall 2022 or 2023 in a full-time research-based master’s degree program at a minority-serving institution or emerging MSI.
  • Have a GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a member of a group that has traditionally been underrepresented in STEM graduate education 
  • Have a strong desire to enroll in a PhD program after their Master’s degree. 

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. To start in Summer 2023, applications must be received byMarch 1, 2023. 

Interested students or faculty wishing to collaborate and recommend/co-advise a student with CEMB faculty must email Abreeotta Williams-Jones (, who can help identify appropriate collaborators within CEMB and provide application instructions. 

After contacting Abreeotta, applications will be asked to provide the following information:

  • Resumé or CV
  • Unofficial Transcript(s) from your undergraduate and graduate institutions
  • Research interest statement discussing research goals for your masters thesis, career goals, and faculty you would like to collaborate with (2-pages MAX)
  • Letter of support from current advisor indicating how a collaboration with CEMB faculty would be beneficial and commitment to a collaborative project with CEMB faculty.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty or past supervisors 

*Minority-serving institutions and emerging minority serving institutions are defined as having underrepresented minority students making up at least 15% of the student body. These include, but are not limited to, historically black colleges and universities, hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. 

CEMB Master’s Fellows

Sebastian Mesones, M.S.
Sebastian Mesones, M.S.2022 Fellow
California State University, Fullerton
Mentored by: Veronica Jimenez Ortiz (CSU Fullerton)
CEMB Mentor: Kara McCloskey (UC Merced)

PhD program: Johns Hopkins University

Raelyn Henderson
Raelyn Henderson2023 Fellow
Southern University
Mentored by: Congyuan Zeng (Southern)
CEMB Mentor: Chinedum Osuji (Penn)

Kamaria Bush
Kamaria Bush2023 Fellow
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Mentored by: Narayan Bhattarai (NCAT)
CEMB Mentor: Joel Boerckel (Penn)