Psych grad student named National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

April 18, 2023 - Shelly DeJong

Kenan Sayers, an MSU Clinical Science graduate student, has been selected for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Sayers is one of twenty-four undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni from Michigan State University to have been selected. 

“This fellowship truly means the world to me. It is such an honor to be recognized for my potential to impact the field of psychology,” said Sayers. “I want to express my immense gratitude to the people who have helped me get to this point. I am beyond grateful to my family, my friends, my classmates, my mentors at UNC Chapel Hill, my amazing mentors at MSU, and the MSU Clinical Science community for supporting me throughout this process. I feel like my support system should be recognized for this achievement just as much as I am. It takes a village. This win is for all of us.” 

The program is the country’s oldest graduate fellowship program that supports graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. 

NSF Graduate Research Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $37,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education they choose. 

Sayers will use his stipend to conduct his own research and pursue mentorship and learning opportunities to enrich his graduate training. The project he proposed is a study using electroencephalogram (EEG) technology to investigate how an acute bout of exercise leads to a cognitive reappraisal of threatening stimuli in individuals with high anxiety sensitivity (AS). Using EEG technology to analyze an appraisal pathway of exercise will allow Sayers to understand exercise’s effect on AS by providing objective data by tracking brain activity while appraisal processes are occurring in real-time. 

"I’m so happy for Kenan for receiving one of this year’s NSF GRFP awards,” said Dr. Jason Moser, advisor to Kenan. “Fun research and training ahead. Congrats, Kenan!”