Announcing the 2016 Presidential Fellows

The Graduate School at the University of South Carolina is pleased to announce our 2016 Presidential Fellows, recipients of USC’s highest university-wide award for promise of excellence at the graduate level. This year’s 26 new Fellows will bring the total number of USC Presidential Fellow recipients to 159, representing 38 doctoral/MFA programs and 9 USC colleges, since the program's inception in 2010.

A Flagship Program 

Unique among peer institutions for its reach across disciplines and focus on professional development, the merit-based Presidential Fellowship program was developed by The Graduate School to increase USC’s competiveness in recruiting outstanding doctoral and MFA applicants.

All Presidential Fellows enjoy a supplemental stipend—$32,000 over four years for doctoral students and $20,000 over five semesters for MFA students—in addition to teaching and research assistantships from Fellows’ academic programs.

Comprising a diverse group of emerging scholars, Fellows benefit from an innovative series of seminars. Jessica Elfenbein, Senior Associate Dean of The Graduate School and Professor of History, facilitates the seminars, which are designed to provide professional development and multidisciplinary community building among scholars in a wide range of research areas. The Presidential Fellows seminars include a partnership featuring the Office of Fellowships & Scholar Programs in a targeted effort to support first year Presidential Fellows as applicants for NSF, Fulbright, and Ford Foundation scholarships; innovative work with Career Services and the Office of Research; workshops on communicating research and publishing; discussions of work-life issues; and time with USC’s President, Provost, and Dean of Graduate Studies, in addition to work-in-progress presentations by third year Fellows.

Presidential Fellows are nominated to The Graduate School by graduate directors prior to an applicant’s matriculation at USC. Successful candidates have promising research agendas or creative projects, accomplished academic records, and superior standardized test scores or impressive portfolios.

Meet Our 2016 Fellows 

This year's Fellows comprise 25 doctoral students and 1 MFA student, the program’s second largest cohort. Incoming Fellows will enroll in 21 different academic programs in seven colleges and schools (Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering and Computing, HRSM, School of Medicine, and Public Health). The 2016 Presidential Fellows include students who have earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at a range of institutions, including Harvard, College of William and Mary, University of Tehran, Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands), King’s College London, University of Georgia, Yale, University of Ioannina (Greece), University of Iowa, and Duke. Three of the entering students hold bachelor’s degrees from USC. Four USC programs (Economics, Environmental Health Sciences, Health Services Policy and Management, and Language and Literacy) will welcome their first ever Presidential Fellows. 

The 2016 Presidential Fellows and their programs are:

Adam Denton, Experimental Psychology

Nathan DeProspo, English

Seyedeh Sahar Derakhshan, Geography

Connor Donahue, Political Science

Spenser Essman, Business Administration

Jill Found, History

Cassandra Horton, Environmental Health Sciences

Daniel Lyons, Political Science

Jennifer Mandelbaum, Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior

Olivia Manley, Chemistry

Richard McCain, Biomedical Sciences

Alecia Nichols, Linguistics

Samuel Nielson, Geography

Catherine Watkin Ntube, Creative Writing (MFA)

Samuel Orr, Comparative Literature

Chamberline Ozigbu, Health Services Policy and Management

Stacey Plotner, Language and Literacy

Elizabeth Regan, Exercise Science

Nicholas Riccardi, Experimental Psychology

Walker Ross, Sport and Entertainment Management

Wesley Taylor, Chemical Engineering

Asia Thomas, School Psychology

Foteini Tzachrista, Economics

Ryan Waldman, Geological Sciences

Carla Wall, School Psychology

Ellen Wenders, Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior