Gabriel Geffen could use his National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue an advanced degree at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education. He’s staying at the University of Arizona because of the support of Yao-Jan Wu, associate professor of civil and architectural engineering and mechanics.
“Now that I will begin my PhD in August, I think back to when I was a sophomore, with zero programming or modeling experience. I am beyond grateful to Dr. Wu, who still offered me a job in his lab because he said he saw potential in me,” said Geffen, adding that he has access to copious amounts of data and other resources as a UA student.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowships recognize and support outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows get a three-year annual stipend of $37,000, along with a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees.
Geffen graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and engineering mechanics. His research area is traffic engineering. With the NSF award, Geffen plans to use natural language processing and machine learning to analyze real-time crowdsourced data from social media to gauge public sentiment and feedback about traffic-related topics. This information can help transportation planners and traffic management centers make informed decisions, he said.
Geffen aims to develop a framework or methodology that can be used in Pima County and Arizona and potentially be expanded across the nation and beyond civil engineering.
“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity because it allows me to continue my research and education in a field I am very passionate about,” Geffen said. “My goal is to make a positive impact on a grand level, and I will use the support from my professor, family and friends to continue to push myself.”