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UW Crest with engineering background
April 24, 2023

Unzaga earns National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Written By: Courtney Vafiadis


James Unzaga
James Unzaga

Materials Science and Engineering first-year Ph.D. student, James Unzaga has earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Unzaga is one of eleven graduate students in the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering to receive this award. One of the most prestigious fellowships for graduate research in the country, which provides three years of financial support for graduate school.

James the oldest of four is a first-generation college student in Professor Michael Arnold’s research group. Prior to UW-Madison, James earned his BS in Chemistry from Montana State University – Billings in 2022 where he held several student government positions, was a Goldwater Scholar and was a TA for three years. At MSUB, he conducted research on inorganic molecules for environmental remediation. James also conducted research at Kansas State University, developing electrochemically active receptor molecules for the detection of environmental contaminants. The combination of these research opportunities provided James with a strong foundation for pursuing a Ph.D. in MS&E at UW-Madison.

He is currently a WARF ambassador and a member of the Dean of the graduate school’s board. At UW-Madison James is researching two-dimensional liquid crystals of carbon nanotubes. Understanding the microstructure of these liquid crystals and the kinetics of their formation will be the focus of James’ research as part of his NSF fellowship. Ultimately, this knowledge will advance the use of aligned arrays of semiconducting carbon nanotubes for next-generation, higher-performance microelectronics.