Prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship grants awarded to two 2012 Steamboat Springs High School grads |

Prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship grants awarded to two 2012 Steamboat Springs High School grads

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Seven years ago, two Steamboat Springs High School students were graduating at the top of their class, watching each other garner accolades in education, music and skiing.

Now a thousand miles apart, Emily Hannah and Lev Tsypin both won a prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship, which is awarded to outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Worth as much as $46,000 per year for three years, the fellowship will allow Hannah and Tsypin to further their research as Ph.D. students.

Emily Hannah
Courtesy photo

Hannah is an electrical engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder. She previously studied engineering sciences at Dartmouth College. The fellowship will allow her to focus on her work with laser technology.

“I work on these really precise lasers that allow us to send signals to the atmosphere and look at how the air affects those signals,” she said.

She said she’s trying to find a more precise way of sending the atomic clock signal over the atmosphere. The world atomic clock is the most precise method of measuring time and was created at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder. Hannah’s laser research also could be used in detecting gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

Hannah was thrilled to learn her former classmate Tsypin also got a National Science Foundation Fellowship.

Lev Tsypin
Courtesy photo

Tsypin’s fellowship will help him with his research on bacteria at the California Institute of Technology, where he calls himself a “miniature farmer.”

“I’m trying to learn how bacteria live in soil, their communities, what sort of compounds they make and share and how they use them,” said Tsypin, a second year Ph.D. student in the biology program.

“We really don’t know much about how bacteria live in the real world,” he said.

Tsypin’s studies are important to soil fertility, farming and land use.

Lev Tsypin and Emily Hannah were finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program when they were seniors at Steamboat Springs High School in 2012.
Scott Franz

A humbling opportunity

About 15,000 students applied for a National Science Foundation Fellowship this year, and about 2,000 students received one. Hannah and Tsypin were both humbled by the opportunity.

“The nature of fellowships and grants is very arbitrary,” Tsypin said. “In the case of this fellowship Emily and I got, I’m sure there were many people who were equally deserving that didn’t get it.”

In an age when everyone’s achievements are touted on social media, Hannah advised young people not to compare themselves to others.

“It seems like they all have it together and you don’t, but just put your head down and work,” she said. “Becoming really good at something, whatever that is, takes a lot of focus and not comparing yourself to other people.”

Hannah is the daughter of Steamboat residents Frankie and Heidi Hannah, and Tsypin is the son of Julia Grigorieva and Maxim Tsypin, also of Steamboat Springs.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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