Molly Watts awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

March 31, 2023

Congratulations to Wright Lab’s Molly Watts, who was awarded a 2023 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP), along with Yale Physics undergraduates Nikhil Harle and Alejandro Simon. 

In addition, four members of the community received honorable mentions from the NSF GRFP: Wright Lab graduate student Eleanor Graham, Yale Physics undergraduate Dawson Thomas, Wright Lab undergraduate alum Laura Zhou ’22, and Yale Physics alum Isabel Sands ‘21.

Watts is a second year graduate student currently working with David Moore at Wright Lab. She graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2020. After graduating, Watts spent a year as a SULI intern at Brookhaven National Lab (working on nEXO, a neutrinoless double beta decay experiment, and quantum computing for dark matter models). At Yale, along with Yarone Tokayer and Sebastian Fernadez-Mulligan, she started a History and Foundation of Physics club. Watts is very passionate about outreach. She has participated and led outreach initiatives in math and physics in NYC (Harlem) and New Haven. She is currently working with David Moore on nEXO and has also worked on SIMPLE on constructing an array of levitated microspheres that has application to dark matter searches.

Watts’ advisor David Moore, assistant professor of physics, remarked, “Molly joined our group at Yale after previously working with collaborators at Brookhaven National Lab on the nEXO experiment as an undergraduate. She immediately jumped into research in our group, both on testing photodetectors for nEXO as well as helping to develop experiments to use optically trapped microparticles for dark matter searches. Beyond her research, she is working on a number of outreach efforts for communicating her research to a broad community, including leading part of our summer workshop for local high school students in the Pathways to Science program.”

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $37,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution. Click here for a list of awardees.

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