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Villanova Alumnus Erik Scully Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Award Will Support Scully’s Graduate Studies in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University alumnus, Erik Scully ’11,’12 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), of Pittsburgh, Pa. has been named a recipient of the National Science Foundation's 2013 Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) to continue pursuit of his Ph.D. in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

Established in 1952, the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is the nation’s oldest fellowship program directly supporting graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. 

The National Science Foundation received more than 13,000 applications for the 2013 competition and made just 2,000 award offers.  Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 and a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research,  professional development, and the ability to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. 

“Erik is a gifted student and I was impressed by his ability to focus on two very different biological systems concurrently during his B.S. /M.S. degree program,” said Robert L. Curry, Ph.D., Professor and Research Mentor in Villanova’s Department of Biology.  “His exposure to extensive research projects as an undergraduate and graduate student at Villanova laid the groundwork for future success as a Ph.D. student and researcher at Harvard University.  Erik is an extremely worthy recipient of this research fellowship and will continue to represent the ideals of Villanova as he makes biological breakthroughs and discoveries.”

Scully earned both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Villanova in an intensive five-year accelerated program during which he was named to the Alpha Epsilon Delta National Premedical Honor Society.  While at Villanova, Scully was involved in numerous research projects surrounding Bagheera kiplingi, the world’s only-known vegetarian spider.  Between 2010 and 2012 he visited rural Mexico on four separate occasions for extended periods of time to research the spider, its feeding patterns, nesting ecology and other behavioral elements. To aid his research efforts, Scully was awarded a number of grants including a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellow (VURF), the Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology Grant-in-Aid of Research, the Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, a Villanova Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship, and the George W. Barlow Graduate Student Research Award.

Since 2012, Scully has been pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Evolutionary Biology with a specialization in Primate Behavioral Ecology at Harvard University. His recent research efforts have been focused on chimpanzees. During the summer of 2012 Scully spent more than three months in the Budongo Forest of Uganda as a field assistant recording baseline behavioral data of chimpanzees with a team from the University of St. Andrews.  Scully will travel to the Kibale Forest of Uganda this summer to study the intercommunity dynamics of chimpanzees. He was awarded a Harvard University Presidential Scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year, a Harvard University Graduate Society Predissertation Summer Fellowship in 2013 and an International Primatological Society Research Award in 2013.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.