Jefferson Scholars Foundation Announces Next Class of Graduate Fellows


The Jefferson Scholars Foundation has selected 17 Ph.D. and M.B.A. students who will pursue their graduate studies at the University of Virginia this fall as the next class of Jefferson Fellows. Awarded solely on the basis of merit, the Jefferson Fellowship is the premier graduate fellowship offered at the University and provides full financial support.

Thirteen of the 17 fellows will attend the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; three will attend the School of Engineering & Applied Science and one will attend the Darden School of Business

Candidates for the merit-based fellowship underwent a rigorous selection process. Those competing in Arts & Sciences and Engineering first had to apply for admission to the University. Nominations were then submitted to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation by academic department chairs or by a scholarship review committee. In all, 57 nominees were invited to come to Charlottesville in February to participate in a three-day competition, which included department visits, seminars, student symposia and interviews conducted by U.Va. alumni and faculty.

“For the Darden Jefferson Fellowship, we ran the selection process differently this year,” said William Wilson, director of the Jefferson Fellowship Program.

Rather than wait to see who applied to Darden and then select candidates from this pool, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation proactively reached out to hundreds of prospective business school applicants, all of whom scored in the highest percentile of the GMAT, and encouraged them to submit an application, Wilson said.

This new approach aims to broaden Darden’s applicant pool and to attract talented students before they commit to other top business schools.

The 17 selected recipients of the Jefferson Fellowship boast a number of significant achievements. Two are Fulbright Scholars; four are members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society; five are members of discipline-specific honor societies such as Beta Gamma Sigma (business), Tau Beta Pi (engineering) and Eta Sigma Phi; five graduated either summa cum laude or cum laude; and all are recipients of various scholarships or awards from their undergraduate institutions.

The newest fellows will join a community of 37 current fellows this fall and, in addition to receiving the full cost of attending U.Va., will be given space to work and conduct research at the Jefferson Fellows Center, a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified building located on University Grounds. This unique space is designed to foster interdisciplinary dialogue among the fellows, as well as give them a space to plan, lead and participate in enrichment programming.

“We look forward to welcoming 17 new fellows to this dynamic academic community and are eager to see the mark they make not only on the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, but also on the University,” Wilson said.

The incoming Jefferson Fellows are:

  • Kevin Angstadt, Department of Computer Science
  • Jeffrey Braun, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Robin Costello, Corcoran Department of Philosophy
  • James Darcy, Corcoran Department of Philosophy
  • Mark Dombrovski, Department of Biology
  • Rebecca Frank, Department of Classics
  • Joshua Gelfand, Darden School of Business
  • Courtney Hill, Department of Civil Engineering
  • Rachael Johnson, Department of Environmental Sciences
  • Christopher Leonard, Department of Mathematics
  • Rosemary Malfi, Department of Environmental Sciences
  • Michael Nilon, Department of Religious Studies
  • Andrea Pauw, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese
  • Erick Romig, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese
  • Eli Stine, McIntire Department of Music
  • Rachel Trapp, McIntire Department of Music
  • Lily Van Diepen, Corcoran Department of History



Media Contact

Jimmy Wright

President Jefferson Scholars Foundation